AV Receiver and 4K UHD TV Crowdfunding for Better Reviews on CNX Software

I’ve written a fair amount of reviews, mostly of Android mini PCs and development boards, and I intend to continue, but there are currently a few things I’m unable to test: S/PDIF and HDMI pass-through, and 4K video output, 3D videos, and HDMI-CEC.  The main reason is that the AV receiver and TVs required to test this are rather expensive, and these are not something I really need personally, since I seldom watch movies myself, I purchased a new Full HD TV last year, and I don’t expect to access 4K content for a few more years.

LG UB830T

Yet it would be interesting to prospective buyers to find out if advertized features such as audio pass-though of 5.1 & 7.1 codec does work, and whether 4K output (listed and real), HDMI-CEC, 3D videos and other features not supported by my current Panasonic can work properly. It would also be fun for me to test these features. That’s why I’ve been thinking of ways to get both an AV receiver and a 4K TV.

One way would be to get an AV receiver donated by companies such as Pioneer, Onkyo, or Yamaha, and a 4K TV by the likes of Sony, Panasonic, Samsung, or others. But even though CNX Software traffic has increased recently, I don’t think it’s a realistic option. So instead I’ve been thinking of raising funds by asking donations and selling some of the devices I used for review.

But first, let’s go through the requirements:

  • 4K TV – HDMI 2.0 for 2160p @ 60 Hz support, HDMI-CEC. Optional, but good to have: 3D video support, MHL, DisplayPort (are these found on TVs?)
  • AV Receiver – HDMI and S/PDIF input. Display showing Codec. 4K pass-through. Codec: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital+ 5.1/7.1, TrueHD 5.1/7.1, DTS HD, and DTS MA

This type of devices would allow me to complete my current review process. I’ve also seen AV receivers claiming 9.2 channel and Dolby Atmos support, but I’ve never read anybody ask for these, and the price is even higher. So I’m gone to my local consumer electronics shop (Sahapanich) to check what’s available, and so far the cheapest options I’ve found matching the requirements are:

  • LG UB830T 49″ 4K UHD TV – 54,999 Baht ($1,672). That’s the catalog price, and I’ve been told the actual price would be a bit lower. [Update: It looks like this model can be found for only 35,000 Baht online (~$1065)]
  • Onkyo TX-NR626 AV receiver – 19,999 Baht ($605).

That means I’d need to raise around $2,200, which is quite higher than I initially anticipated. The HDMI 2.0 (2160p 60Hz) requirement somehow increase the price of the TV a lot, as I could get something for around $1,000 with HDMI 1.4, and DTS-HD, 7.1 channel adds about $100 compared to a 5.1 system with speakers. So if anybody, especially people living in Thailand, knows cheaper options that would fulfill the requirements, that would be greatly helpful, and I’d be able to lower the target amount to raise.

ONKYO TX-NR626

The plan is to run the campaign for 10 days (until 19 January 2015), accept payment by Paypal, and if we can’t raise enough money, I’d just click on the refund button in Paypal, since I don’t really need donations to run the blog itself. If you’d like to donate, select the 4K UHD TV or AV receiver options below.

Funded! Thank you!

If rather that just donating, you’d rather buy one of the reviewed sample, at a small discount, you can contact me by email if you are interested. I’ll also wait the end of the campaign before shipping, and if case I can’t raise enough fund, I’ll ask whether you still want it or would like a refund before shipping. I would use EMS within Thailand, and Small Packet registered Airmail to the rest of the word.

Device Price including Shipping
Thailand Rest of the World
HPH NT-V6 (4GB RAM / 32 GB eMMC) 5,000.00 THB $160.00
MXQ S85 1,200.00 THB $42.00
Probox2 EX with air mouse 3,500.00 THB $120.00
Rippl-TV 3,000.00 THB $100.00
HD18T DVB-T2 android tv box 1,200.00 THB $42.00
Zero Devices Z5C Thinko 1,800.00 THB $60.00
Eny M8S 2,200.00 THB $72.00
CX-S806 (S812) 2,000.00 THB $68.00
WeTek Play DVB-S2 (Engineering sample, potential Wi-Fi/Ethernet issues) 1,000.00 THB $30.00
Ugoos UM3 (Enginnering sample. No heatsink, 5V/2A power adapter) 2,000.00 THB $68.00
OpenHour Chameleon 4,000.00 THB $135.00
Tronsmart Draco AW80 Meta 3,800.00 THB $125.00
Jesurun T034 2,200.00 THB $72.00
CX-01 500.00 THB $20.00
MK808 500.00 THB $20.00
Kimdecent A2 500.00 THB $20.00
EGreat H5 500.00 THB $20.00
T428 700.00 THB $25.00
MK908 700.00 THB $25.00
FreeOTT 500.00 THB $20.00
CS868 700.00 THB $25.00
Vidon.me AV200 1,700.00 THB $60.00
CubieTruck Metal Case (CubieTruck + Metal Case + Battery + Cables, but no SSD) 3,000.00 THB $100.00
Freescale SABRE Lite 5,000.00 THB $160.00
Radxa Rock (2013) 2,500.00 THB $80.00
Wandboard Dual (no case) 2,500.00 THB $80.00
Cubieboard (with micro SD slot broken) 700.00 THB $25.00
A80 OptimusBoard 4,000.00 THB $135.00
ODROID-XU3 Lite (Board + Case + Power supply + micro HDMI, no eMMC module)
3,000.00 THB $90.00
ODROID-X with full kit, 10″ display (no touch), power supplies, and others. 4,000.00 THB $135.00
Atmel SAMA5D3 Xplained 2,000.00 THB $65.00
A10-OlinuXino-MICRO (Allwinner A13) 800.00 THB $30.00
WRTnode 500.00 THB $20.00
LinkIt ONE 2,000.00 THB $65.00
Texas Instruments Connected LaunchPad (IoT board with Ethernet) 500.00 THB N/A (Buy from TI :p)
Infineon XMC4500 Relax Lite Kit 500.00 THB $20.00
Infineon Hexagon Application Kit + Cortex-M Debugger 2,500.00 THB $80.00
Energy Micro EFM32 Starter Kit 1,700.00 THB $60.00

I want to keep at least one sample for each processor, especially the 4K capable SoC (Rockchip RK3288, Amlogic S802/S812, and Allwinner A80), so I’ll keep at least three samples for this purpose.

I’ll keep track of the progress daily (net amount) in the table below, splitting the funding for TV and receiver respetively by 2/3 and 1/3 at first, but I may make adjustments as needed at the end of the campaign. The funding does not start from zero, as include 10,000 Baht for the television, and 3,000 Baht for the AV receiver to get started. I’ve also sold 4 device locally since I though about purchasing a 4K TV and AV receiver, bringing in 9079 Baht net, as well as a $10 donation (Thanks Nikolai) which I’ve split between the TV and receiver.

4K UHD TV AV Receiver
Date Total Amount Raised (net) USD equivalent Total Amount Raised (net) USD equivalent
Jan 9, 15 16,010 Baht  $486.75 6,079 Baht  $184.60
Jan 10, 15  21,100 Baht  $642.60  8,829 Baht  $268.89
Jan 11, 15  22,775 Baht  $693.62  9,254 Baht  $281.83
Jan 12, 15  27,647 Baht $840.60  12,514 Baht  $380.50
Jan 13, 15  30,789 Baht  $936.54 14,042 Baht  $427.11
Jan 14, 15*  23,000 Baht  $702.59  23,264 Baht  $710.11
Jan 15, 15  23,000 Baht  $702.59  26,964 Baht  $823.46
Jan 16, 15  23,000 Baht  $702.59  27,264 Baht  $836.51
Jan 17, 15  23,000 Baht  $702.59  27,264 Baht  $836.51
Jan 18, 15  23,000 Baht  $702.59  27,264 Baht  $836.51
Jan 19, 15**  19,610 Baht  $601.88  30,502 Baht  $936.00

* I’ve re-allocated more funds from sold devices to the AV receiver, since I’ve been able to confirm LG 42UB820T model supports HDMI 2.0, so that’s probably the one I’ll buy for 23,000 Baht or less. The only feature missing is 3D support, but not that many people may be interested in 3D videos, and it adds a lot to the cost. I’ll also need to buy speakers with the AV receiver, and probably choose another model due to HDMI issues with Onkyo TX-NR626. So I think the crowdfunding is already successful, and I’ll buy both a 4K TV and AV Receiver, I just need to decide where, and choose another AV receiver model. *

** The crowdfunding campaign is now complete, and I consider it successful as I could buy an AV receiver (Onkyo TX-NR636 for 25,000 baht) and a 4K TV( LG 42UB820T for 19,610 Baht after getting lucky with a 10% coupon this morning), and I still have to buy some speakers.
Here’s the details of this crowdfunding with Paypal fees and shipping:

Gross Net Currency Conversion Shipping Total
4K TV Donations $150.00 $139.50 ฿4,417.28 N/A ฿4,417.28
AV Receiver Donations $90.00 $84.22 ฿2,666.83 N/A ฿2,666.83
Device sales (USD) $686.00 $660.07 ฿20,901.18 ฿4,026.00 ฿16,875.18
Device sales (THB) ฿4,200.00 ฿4,200.00 N/A ฿124.00 ฿4,076.00
Total: ฿28,035.30

So thanks to my readers, I managed to raise 28,035 Baht, and after adding device sales (9,079 Baht) made previously, and 13,000 Baht out of my pocket, I’ve got a ~50,112 Baht budget to purchase the equipment needed. I’ve already spent 44,610 for the largest expenses, and I have 5,500 baht left for the speakers. **

That’s it. I think I covered everything. Whatever happens, everybody wins. If enough money is raised, I’ll be able to purchase a 4K UHD TV and/or an AV Receiver, and my reviews will be more detailed with 4K output, HDMI-CEC, HDMI and S/PDIF pass-through testing, but if not, I’ll have a little less work to do, keep a bit more of my savings, and I’ll organize another giveaway week with some of the devices above.

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57 Replies to “AV Receiver and 4K UHD TV Crowdfunding for Better Reviews on CNX Software”

  1. Jean Luc, sorry to say that you are on the wrong foot here.
    You had choose the easy way but it is the wrong way.
    It is a shame.
    (and lookout for that prices, some of the devices are selling now for less than what you are asking… I think that is non ethical towards your loyal readers… but, of course, you may disagree)
    Good luck!

  2. @JotaMG
    I applied a 15% discount on prices I found online. I’ll also spend $10 to $20 on shipping. If I give further discounts, I’m pretty sure I would not be able to raise enough money. And even now, it will be pretty hard to raise enough money.
    But as I said if it fails, I’ll just giveaway many of the platforms listed above.

  3. I have a 4K TV and ATMOS Receiver.
    Just send me these devices and i will do the Audio and 4k test for you….

  4. im thinking to raise this with the chinese companies which i am working and are reading your blog … i cannot predict success or not but at least i’ll do my best to help you out with this.

    I remember in Shenzen Office i had for testing 2 brands of 4k TV’s TCL aka Teclast and the second one was a MI TV from xiaomi … i sent several emails with this stuff and will keep you informed via email regarding results.

    This blog needs to go one step further so i will use all my connections and relationships from China to help it out in this matter.

    @JotaMG

    mate i think you are very wrong … CNX need to make a further step and for that he needs some stufflike it or not.

  5. it must be nice to be sent tv boxes every month for free, but to charge your readers for free tv boxes so that you can get a new tv for tests that we have all done without is ridiculous. How many people request 4k takes on a daily basis? is great you write your blog which makes for good reading but in2015 information is free, i could understand if your efforts were going to be cleared otherwise, but this is wrong. i can only speak k for me but id rather do my own tastes on my own tv and if i didn’t have a 4k tv why should the results matter? you’re asking for a party on the back while asking us to foot the bill for a 4k tv AND audio system. i never recd a request from endgadget or cnet so why csx? my point is that your work was appreciated, it was convenient but not the only source globally for reviewers. Whats that, over 30 boxes FREE in q3/4 2014 alone? must be nice may be nice bloke. i suggest you take your personal request and contact the Chinese box makers for help. or at least call this a digest, charge a monthly fee, and use those proceeds. you’ve got some set of balls

  6. Thanks Paul 😉
    Jean Luc, I appreciate your blog, I’ve learned a few things reading it, so, if you want to know what I will do in your place, email me…
    If you want to be a major player, you have to behave as one….

  7. I just donated the money, you deserve more, but its strange that the guy who spend so much time for such nice reviews has to ask donation to continue his work, you should have alot of hits everyday on your website should learn some tactics from Google to make good money; not only for 4K Tv but also money for your earning 🙂

  8. Guys,
    Don’t blame Jean Luc for this approach, some reader told him to do it this way so he can fund for those equipment.
    This was not his idea…

  9. @Paul taraneh
    @JotaMG
    You really cannot see why CNX is doing this fundraiser this way?

    Maybe you really should then find better location for actual reviews of these cheap boxes, as you so much dislike reader sponsored content (vs commercially sponsored kind).

    And if you think you can do better job at it… Go for it.

    @Mike
    Involving yourself that way it way too invasive, do your own, and then try to get crosslinks going with CNX, would be better for both (and readers of these ARM articles would preciate more content/blogs).

  10. The LG (at least the 42UB820V) doesn’t support 4:4:4 in 4K.
    If you can get one, the Panasonic AX630 series support 4K in 4:4:4 (8bit), and 4:2:2/4:2:0 (12bit).

  11. Do yourself a favor and go denon or yamaha for receiver. Onkyo is notorious for dieing of thermal issues.

  12. @Someone from the other side
    Having had both yamaha and denon, in general yamaha has fancier settings on their audio dsp whereas denon has better capabilities in room correction. If you want surround sound in a non perfect room, generally denon is the safer bet.

  13. I appreciate this approach far more than the usual tech blog style. To me it seems far more honest. Besides, when do you see Engadget et-al going into detail about compiling new Linux kernels for obscure arm boxes? Keep up the good work.

  14. @Someone from the other side
    I would actually look into those wonderful Yamaha soundbars, those things are amazing for the size (and the fact of having all “surround” speakers on one face only)… Sure the price is way too steep for Joe Averages… :-S

  15. @Mike
    I’ve been thinking about that, but completely forgot to mention it in the post.
    It’s feasible, but there are some drawbacks.
    1. Assuming maybe 20 boxes per year, shipping would be $300 to $400 (Airmail), or $600 to $800 (EMS) per year to the US. So overtime, it would actually end-up being more expensive, and you may get bored with this…
    2. I’d send the review units after my review, so the 4K, HDMI-CEC, 3D video, HDMI/SPDIF audio pass-through would have to be in a separate post several weeks after. I’d probably go to post office only once a month too.
    3. Sometimes I like to keep the boxes a little longer for future testing, e.g. Linux port…

    If I could find somebody in Thailand, it would be much cheaper, and fast too.

  16. @schwatter
    @Someone from the other side
    I’ll check Denon / Yamaha too, if I can find something in the same price range or lower.
    My test videos are only 10 to 20 seconds long, and I have 7 videos to test via HDMI and S/PDIF pass-through, so I guess thermal issues may not kick in with these short videos. This may become one, if people start noticing audio suddenly drops after a while, and I need to add a full movie via HDMI or SPDIF pass-through to my test procedure.

    @hwti
    Thanks for the tip, this model does not seem available in Thailand. When I went to the shop asking for a 4K Panasonic TV, they told me they did not have any, and indeed I can’t see any in the brochure I got from the shop. In Panasonic Thailand website, they do have two 4K models including a 48″ one, maybe worth checking out. Note to self: http://www.panasonic.com/th/consumer/home-entertainment/smart-viera-tv.html

  17. @Yasir Ashfaque
    Thanks for your donation. I thought I made it clear I did not run money to run the blog, but maybe I did not highlight this enough in my long post.

    I can’t justify spending $2,000 on this equipment, because It don’t think I’ll get the money back from adding the extra 4K / AV receiver tests, and especially I won’t setup a home theater to watch movies, If I get an AV receiver and 4 TV, they’ll probably just be on my desk next to my computer screens (that’s the 39″ TV I bought last year), and only just them for reviews. Asking for funds from the community also allows me to see if people are really interested in these tests. If it fails this time, maybe I’ll purchase in a couple of years when prices have come down, and/or traffic has done up further (e.g. Once CNX Software gets 1 million pageviews per month, I’ll just use my own money..)

    Anyway this was not clear enough in the post, and you changed you mind, you can ask me to refund your donation. No problem.

  18. @Paul taraneh
    I agree that people who don’t have AV receiver or 4K TV have no reasons to donate for this, and everybody is free to choose whether they want to donate or not. As Mike said, people have asked “when do you add a donation button?” previously, and “how can we get a 4K to Jean-Luc?”, so I’m trying this out. And if I don’t get enough money, I’ll just refund everybody, except for those who want I send the devices anyway. I don’t really care whether I get a 4K TV / AV receiver or not. If not, I’ll just carry on with my usual reviews, skipping 4K video output, testing 5.1/7.1 audio codec via PCM, and quickly getting a comment from Mike saying “You can’t do that!”.

    You can also get free boxes every month. You just need to quit your job / retire, start a blog (maybe not in that order), and after 3 or 4 years, it will rain free boxes.

  19. I think you will raise more money than you required, but i dont get the concept, if you run this blog and give time to it, there is no shame in earning back, this is what you deserve, i dont get your point to become a saint 🙂

  20. Hey Jean,

    I have no problem donating some money. You work really hard on this blog and you deserve the right equipment. 4k technology is essentially the future of television, while it may not be popular with consumers due to its expensive price and very limited content it will become the industry standard when the infrastructure is in place. I think your reviews will become even more important with this test.

    However I sell televisions for a living and I’m afraid the L.G UB850 is IMO a very poor panel. It only has a 200HZ panel which is very slow and the digital bezel is a terrible design.

    You would be far better off with the Panasonic AX series or The Sony KDX9 series as they are much faster panels but they are expensive.

    Your best value for money is the Samsung UE48HU7500. It might cost a little more but It’s a fantastic T.V with excellent all-round quality. That’s my personal recommendation.

    Best of luck.

  21. I think is a great way to fund getting equipment as we all benefit from Jean’s testing.
    Much prefer donating a small amount than he puts a crapload of annoying ads on his site to get funds that way.

  22. To those sending money: Remember PayPal will take fees. If you send money via credit card PayPal takes a percentage for credit card processing. It’s best if you can transfer funds from a bank account and pay that way to avoid those extra fees. Also, if you send money via the “Send Money” option in PayPal, you can select “I’m sending money to family or friends” and you _may_ be able to avoid all fees. I tried it and only had to pay the flat rate of $0.45. The alternative is that fee is taken off the amount you’ve sent so the total ends up less on the receiving end. (so, if I try to send $10 and pick that option, I get deducted $10.45 but Jean receives the full $10. If I pick the other option I get deducted $10 but Jean receives, at most, $9.55 and there may be other fees on that lowering it further.)

    Lets maximize this fund raiser!

  23. @Mike
    Thanks. I’m waiting for the end of the crowdfunding first. With the amount I have raised so far thanks to kind donations and device/board purchases, I should be able to get at least the 4K TV OR AV receiver + speakers. if only prices in Thailand were similar to the US, I could get already both.

  24. @cnxsoft
    OK, so I’ve looked into it a bit more, and although LG-42UB820T LG website and the seller say it only supports HDMI 1.4, but the user’s manual shows 2x HDMI input for 4K @ 60 Hz http://www.lg.com/th/support-product/lg-42UB820T#. If that’s the case, the TV costs only ~22,000 Baht and there’s enough funds for both 4K TV and AV receiver. I’ll just drop 3D video support, but everything else appear to be there.

    Edit: I contact LG Thailand on Facebook, and they confirm the TV indeed supports HDMI 2.0: “LG Thailand Service Support says HDMI 2.0. Sorry about wrong information on LG Thailand website”

    I’ve also been advised to look into Denon AVR-X1100, Yamaha RX-V477 and Marantz SR-5007, which only cost a bit more (22,000 Baht) than the Onkyo one.

    Thanks to all who donated, purchased boxes, and provided advice!

  25. @a1danslat3
    I’ve checked the three models:
    Denon AVR-X1100 – 5.1 channels only
    Yamaha RX-V477 – 5.1 channels only
    Marantz SR-5007 – 7.2 Channel with support for all codecs listed above.

    What happens when you try to play a 7.1 audio stream into a 5.1 audio receiver?
    I don’t really mind 5.1 vs 7.2 physical output, but I do need the system to detect and handle 7.1 channels.
    I’m also confused if a product is said to support “DTS-HD Master Audio”, does that also include DTS-HD HR?

    Sorry for all the questions.

  26. @cnxsoft, just read over at newegg that this receiver isn’t reliable and it’s known that the HDMI board fails after 24 months or so.
    They recommend to go for Yamaha A820 instead.

  27. All those receivers listed doesn’t support Atmos.

    Get the Onkyo
    If You are just using it for testing( The Onkyo support all the latest format out there.)

  28. @fossxplorer
    Thanks. Yamha A820 seems hard to find here. I’ll check Marantz SR-5007 into more details.

    @Mike
    I’ve been checking the Atmos capability for ONKYO TX-NR626, and I think only ONKYO TX-NR636 would support it, and other higher end models. It is still a bit over budget for now.

    I also understand that Atmos would be embedded into Dolby TrueHD stream. So I’m not sure it’s something a TV box would be aware of. It would just pass-through the TrueHD stream (whether with Atmos or not), and the AV receiver would handle it. So if TrueHD pass-through works, then Atmos would too. Maybe I’m wrong. Corrections are welcome.

  29. You have already reached to the target, better is to raise more money and buy TV with 3D feature, i think it will make difference specially 3D with true 4k.

  30. @Yasir Ashfaque
    I was about to order the TV, but OK, I’ll wait until the 19th, and see how it goes. 3D is about $300 extra however, partially because the min TV size is 49″ instead of the 42″ for the other TV.
    I’m also running a survey about 3D TV: https://plus.google.com/110719562692786994119/posts/W8t3przR9VL.
    For now about 20% of respondents have one, and 70% of respondents who don’t have one, don’t see the need for one.
    Some of the people who have a 3D TV don’t even use the 3D feature (based on comments).

  31. @cnxsoft
    I agree with your comment, but we dont buy TV everyday, most of the people i know have never watched “good” 3d movie or dint get chance to watch one, but things will change with 4k specially passive 3d, so no one knows where future goes but i have strong feeling that passive 3d with 4K HDR will change the way people watch movies.

  32. @cnxsoft
    Also make sure the tv you choose should have WebOS 2, not sure the one you are going to buy have it ? it would be good if you will review WebOS 2 as well would be a bonus 🙂

  33. So finally I went to my local shop for some shopping, no TV (I’ll buy online, as it’s much cheaper), but I could get the AV receiver at a decent price.

    I asked for Denon AVR-X1100W first, no they did not have it, then PioneerVSX-924, still nothing. Then they asked me if I liked “Onkyo”… TX-NR626 was not available, but TX-NR636 was, and with 3-year warranty so I went ahead, and this is what I got:

    Now I need to get some speakers, I’ll probably buy a cheap 5.1 or 2.1 set which should be enough to check if audio is OK.

  34. The crowdfunding is now complete. I’ve also bought the 4K TV (LG 42UB820T) online, which should be delivered within a week.
    Next step is to buy some speakers. I’m trying to get Pioneer S-11 speakers (http://www.pioneer-thailand.com/speakers11), which I’ll use in 4.0 configuration.

    Thanks to all who donated, purchased boxes, and helped with advice!

  35. cnxsoft :
    The crowdfunding is now complete. I’ve also bought the 4K TV (LG 42UB820T) online, which should be delivered within a week.
    Next step is to buy some speakers. I’m trying to get Pioneer S-11 speakers (http://www.pioneer-thailand.com/speakers11), which I’ll use in 4.0 configuration.
    Thanks to all who donated, purchased boxes, and helped with advice!

    Now every month you should select one of your reader and give them a free device…!

  36. Kiss you AV receiver and say goodbye to speaker wires and your LCD TV The next year will bring the audio and video revolution to the Home-Theatre as we know.

    KLIPSCH Home-Theatre 5.1 Reference Premium wireless speaker system ( WiSA ) is due to be released soon and this will make the A/V Receivers and perhaps wired speakers obsolete as well. Onkyo, Sharp, LG, Bang-Olufsen, Bose and many other brands are following this trend.

    The panel – free display, Laser Projector 4 K TV has been released. IMHO the mass production of Laser TV projectors will make the LCD and plasma panel TVs obsolete as well.

    http://www.digitaltrends.com/home-theater/klipsch-shows-reference-premiere-wireless-home-theater/

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