Review of K1 Plus Android TV Box with Combo DVB-S2/DVB-T2 Tuner

VideoStrong has launched K1 Plus TV box powered by Amlogic S905 processor last year, and I had the chance to review their model last November. But here I am reviewing K1 Plus again. Why? That’s because the company’s has several K1 Plus models: the “standard” version that’s just like any Android TV boxes, and the DVB version with DVB-S2, DVB-T2/C, or DVB-T2/C + DVB-S2 combo, and the latter is the one I’m reviewing today. K1 Plus DVB combo teardown revealed that the main board was exactly the same as K1 Plus “standard”, and that only a tuner card was added. So I’ll have a two part review with the first part checking if they fixed any of the bugs found on K1 Plus “Standard” with “November 2015” firmware in the new “January 27, 2016 DVB” firmware, and the second part will focus on testing DTV app with DVB-S2 and DVB-T2, PVR and time-shifting.

K1 Plus “Standard” vs K1 Plus DVB Firmware

The launcher used in DVB firmware is exactly the same as in the standard version.

K1_Plus_DVB_Launcher

I listed some pros and cons in my conclusion of K1 Plus “standard” review. Let’s check out the cons, and find out if they’ve been fixed or improved:

  • Pre-installed Kodi 15.2 version does not work well when 2160p video output is selected (1080p output looks better); automatic frame rate switching is not working either.
  • HDMI – Dolby Digital 7.1+, DTS HD and Atmos pass-through not working; CEC not working; Video output resolution set in settings is not always used at next power on.
  • Missing DTS and Dolby support for PCM output
  • No DRM installed, even Widewine Level 3 required for SD playback on relevant apps.
  • WiFi performance may be erratic (TBC), very good sometimes, and near stall speed at others.
  • 3D games such as Beach Buggy Racing and Riptide GP2 are not playing very smoothly, and performance may degrade with play time (and higher heat).
  • No option to show status and notification bars, no Download icon in app list.
  • Lacks Bluetooth support
  • USB hard drive partitions (NTFS / exFAT) reported as having 10MB free only, basically rendering the partitions read-only.

The pre-installed version of “Kodi” is still 15.2 with some add-ons, but the build date has changed from 2015-11-09 to 2015-12-07, so there may have been some improvements.

Kodi_15.2_K1_Plus
Click for Original Size

First I had to be careful to check output resolution is to 2160p @ 60 Hz, because the system will always revert to 1080p50 (as shown in the screenshot above), which remains a bug yet to be fixed. All videos were shown in Letterbox mode in K1 Plus “standard”, and i’s nice to see this have been fixed:

  • H.264 codec / MP4 container (Big Buck Bunny) – 1080p – OK
  • MPEG2 codec / MPG container –  1080p – OK
  • MPEG4 codec, AVI container 1080p – OK
  • VC1 codec (WMV) – 1080p – OK
  • Real Media (RMVB), 720p / 5Mbps – OK
  • WebM / VP8 – OK
  • H.265 codec / MPEG TS container (1080p) – OK
  • WebM / VP9 (no audio in video) – OK

4K video are also fairly well supported:

  • HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4 – OK
  • sintel-2010-4k.mkv – OK
  • Beauty_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) –  OK
  • BT.2020.20140602.ts (Rec.2020 compliant video) – Stays in UI
  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_30fps.mp4 – OK
  • Fifa_WorldCup2014_Uruguay-Colombia_4K-x265.mp4 (4K, H.265, 60 fps) – OK
  • Samsung_UHD_Dubai_10-bit_HEVC_51.4Mbps.ts (10-bit HEVC / MPEG-4 AAC) – stays in UI
  • Astra-11479_V_22000-Canal+ UHD Demo 42.6 Mbps bitrate.ts (10-bit H.265 from DVB-S2 stream) – Stays in UI

Unfortunately none of the 10-bit H.265 videos are playing. But it’s still a big progress since Kodi was pretty unusable in the standard version.
Last time I tested HDMI audio pass-through with Video Player, and this time I did it with Kodi, and sadly it’s not really usable.

  • AC3 / Dolby Digital 5.1 – Audio OK (Dolby D 5.1), video not smooth
  • E-AC-3 / Dolby Digital+ 5.1 – OK (Dolby D 5.1) most of the time, but two small audio cuts occurred during playback
  • Dolby Digital+ 7.1 – PCM 2.0 only
  • TrueHD 5.1 – PCM 2.0 only
  • TrueHD 7.1 – PCM 2.0 only
  • Dolby Atmos 7.1 – PCM 2.0 only
  • DTS HD MA – DTS 5.1 only, and two short audio cuts during playback
  • DTS HD HR – DTS 5.1 only, and one short audio cut during playback

That’s especially announcing since WeTek fixed HD audio pass-through in Amlogic S8xx and S9xx and confirmed it to work in both WeTek Core, and WeTek Play 2S at the beginning of the month, and even released the source code. But maybe Kodi is not a priority for Videostrong, and/or Chinese New Year holidays may have made February a slow month in China..

Since the company is not using Amlogic S905-H processor there was no way DTS and Dolby downsampling to PCM (stereo) would work with other apps, and I could confirm that MX Player would not output any audio from playing such files over PCM output.

I played a 2-hour 1080p video over WiFi from a SAMBA share, and it worked just fine.

DRM_Info_K1_Plus_DVBAt least Widewinve DRM is now support (Level 3), and that a small step in the right direction. So overall video output and playback support have improved, but it’s not quite at the level of the competition.

Wifi was quite stable overall, but performance had it’s up and downs and the average throughput was lower than K1 Plus “standard”.

Throughput in Mbps
Throughput in MB/s

Bear in mind that WiFi performance can be extremely volatile, and when I tested K1 Plus DVB, the transfer time for a 278 MB file varied between 1m15s and 2m22s during my several attempts.

I also had some new issues with both Google Play and Amazon Underground. I could browse app and select them for installation with the former, but after a few minutes I realized that none of 16 apps I selected would install, as it was waiting for WiFi connection, and I was using Ethernet… So I switched to WiFi, and I could complete the installation. Amazon Underground failed to install for unknown reasons, but the patented bug fixing method called “Good Night SleepTM” resolved the issue, and the app could install the next morning.

Once I managed to get Amazon appstore running, I could install Riptide GP2 racing game, which I played for 15 minutes both to test 3D graphics performance, and stability. I basically had the same issue as with K1 Plus, with the games crashing if I adjusted the graphics settings higher, poor performance with “high resolution” (MAX-4) settings, and the game became less and less playable over time, with some micro freezes (around second) occurring from time to time. Temperatures measured with an IR thermometer on the top and bottom of the case were respectively 56 and 64C after around 15 minutes. I also went to CPU-Z to check aml_thermal after the game, and the reported temperature was 86C, which seems pretty high.

All other Amlogic S905 TV boxes I’ve tested before have the 10MB USB hard drive bug, meaning I can only read from my USB hard drive, or copy files smaller than 10MB, because the size is incorrectly detected. Since K1 Plus DVB has a PVR function it’s very important for it to work. Sadly it still has the same bug, so I’ll have to use a 64GB flash drive (properly detected) in order to record live TV or use timeshifting. I first discovered this bug in August 2015 on Mygica ATV1900AC, so 6 months later I would have expected it to be fixed, especially since I’m not the only one to have the issue.

Videostrong had two months (end of November until end of January) to fix the bug found in my first review, and I have to say I’m very disappointed with the progress done so far, with most critical bugs still there, and the only positives being a somewhat working Kodi (with several caveats) and DRM support. Oh yes, and there’s still no way to show the status and notification bars,  so you’d have to hack the system by changing systemui.apk and build.prop, as explained by Karl in his review of Eny EM95 TV box.

DTV app for DVB-T2 and DVB-S2 Free-to Air channels

The main selling points of K1 Plus DVB box is the combo tuner, and you’ll need to start DTV app to get access to live channels.

Android_DTV_appOnce you’ve connected your satellite dish for DVB-S2, and terrestrial antenna for DVB-T2, you’ll be ready to configure the syste,. Since there are a few steps involved I’ve already explained how to scan DVB-T2 and DVB-S2 channels on K1 Plus Amlogic receiver. My configuration is using a simple fixed satellite dish, but there are options to control a motorized satellite dish, and/or multiple satellite dishes via DiSEqC.

Once the system is configured, you’ll need to select whether you want to use DVB-S2 or DVB-T2 each time your start the app, but you can press the DTV button on the remote to quickly restart the app and change the tuner selection.
K1_Plus_DVB-T2_DVB-S2

Live TV is working pretty well, and switching between channels does work quite fast for both DVB-S2 and DVB-T2, although for the first couple of seconds the video is not 100% smooth.

K1_Plus_DVB-T2_ChannelIf you are using languages with accents or complex languages there may be issues, as you can see is the case for Thai language in the overlay info window above. The Electronic Program Guide (EPG) can be accessed with the corresponding remote control key, and it is working, although sometimes it’s pretty slow to get the data, and with the same font rendering issues.

Click for Original Size
Click for Original Size

And once you are in the EPG, you can select a program and press OK to either schedule to box to Play or Record a program, with the icon R or P showing on the right side of the screen once you’ve done the selection.

K1_Plus_DVB_Live_TV_Recording

You can consult the schedule list (Book List) by pressing the Blue button, and the system appears to handle programming conflicts too.K1_Plus_Timer_List

K1_Plus_DVB_Scheduling_Conflicts

Scheduling works well, as long as you let the DTV app running in the foreground. If you use a web browser or play games in Android, the scheduled recording or play time will be start automatically. Same thing is you schedule a program on DVB-T2, and you are currently watching live TV with DVB-S2, it will not switch automatically. The device must be running all the time, since there’s only on or power off, if you plan to schedule recordings. Power consumption is relatively low at around 10 watts with storage, but it’s still annoying. So I don’t find the K1 Plus set-top box to be user-friendly from that point of view.

You can also record manually by pressing the PVR key on the remote control. Recording works pretty well, and videos can be found in DTVRecordFiles of your storage device both with .ts (the videos) and .amdur files. You can play the video directly from the DTV app by going to the Menu and selecting Record list, or from media players on your Android device, and the results is usually satisfying. However, I also copied some files to my computer, and I could play them with some artifacts at the beginning in VideoLAN (VLC), but not at all in Totem video player.

K1_Plus_Video_Recording_FormatThe video were recorded at 1080p at 25 fps using H.264 AVC codec, and they’ve properly recorded both audio tracks (AAC). Here’s a short sample.

Timeshifting can  be enabled with the Play/Pause key on the remote, and working reasonably well with possibly some artifacts when enabling the function, with a default recording time of 5 minutes, but the length is configurable in the PVR options.K1_Plus_PVR_Settings

There’s also a hidden “Smart Data Manager” menu which you can enabled by pressing the Menu key, going into Installation, and pressing 111111 in the remote.

K1_Plus_DVB_CCaamThis will give you access to “Smart Data” and “BISS” but it’s not something I have tried.

You can check the video review to have a better understanding of the digital TV capabilities and performance of K1 Plus DVB. bear in mind that I could only tried SD and HD channels, since I have not found 4K UHD channels, even test channels, in my location.

Conclusion


K1 Plus DVB Android set-top box is one of the few Android TV boxes on the market with a combo DVB-S2 & DVB-T2 tuner, and I’m glad Videostrong brought this type of product to market. However, I’m very disappointed by the progress made on the firmware front between my review of K1 Plus standard with a firmware released in November, as they’ve almost fixed none of the issues I reported at the time. Kodi has improved a little (10-bit H.265 is not working though), Widevine DRM Level 3 has been enabled, but 3D games (Riptide GP2) still crash when graphics settings are set to high, 3D graphics performance is quite poor compared to other Amlogic S905 devices, it overheats leading to CPU/GPU throttling, the system feels sluggish at times with apps loading slowly, I still can’t use my USB hard drive (10MB bug), the user’s interface does not provide access to status and notifications bar, and so on… So it feels like either Videostrong does not have the resources for development, they don’t really care (or really think the firmware is good enough), or they are incompetent…

However, the DVB part is not that bad, as least compared to some other Amlogic Android DVB boxes I’ve tested in the past such as HD18T or ATV586. Most features work reasonably well, and I could use both DVB-S2 and DVB-T2 parts, but there are still some bugs such as artifacts at the beginning of recording videos or Timeshifting, and (Asian) font rendering issues. The system integration is also inexistent, meaning that the TV box and DTV app must be running at all times for scheduling to work, there’s no background process handling this, and you can’t simply use other Android apps, and expect to get a pop-up when the recording/playback start time has been reached. You also have to chose between DVB-S2 or DVB-T2, as you can’t record a program on DVB-S2, while watching a program on DVB-T2 for example.  The idea behind having a combo tuner is great, and it works, but the implementation is not as user-friendly and good as one may have expected.

I’d still like to thank Videostrong for giving me the opportunity to review both their K1 Plus “standard” and K1 Plus DVB combo, and resellers and distributors can contact the company via their Alibaba page for further request and/or purchase in quantities. K1 Plus DVB-S2/T2 Android TV box is currently sold for around $76 on GearBest and GeekBuying.

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natsu
natsu
4 years ago

the DVB part seems stable after all, but all the android part is a real mess
only an openelec firmware with a cutom kernel could save this box

Gotan
Gotan
4 years ago

But real issue is for DVB as this device dont support Dolby and all HD channels on Astra and hotbird are in Dolby digital AC3, so this device will not give audio output. Also in UK DVB-T2 is dolby digital plus eac3 so no audio with this device

@natsu

They need make proper dvbapi compatible driver to save this box, but I dont think that will happen…

onebir
onebir
4 years ago

“K1 Plus DVB Android set-top box is one of the few Android TV boxes on the market with a combo DVB-S2 & DVB-T2 tuner, and I’m glad Videostrong brought this type of product to market.”

Why is it useful to have both in one box? Do some countries use both standards simultaneously?

natsu
natsu
4 years ago

@onebir
yes, almost all europe, north africa and middle east

natsu
natsu
4 years ago


did any backend worked with this device

natsu
natsu
4 years ago


ok

did Mx player and Kodi 16 worked fine; usually MXPLAYER is much more stable than kodi

natsu
natsu
4 years ago

@Gotan
exactly, wetek will do it for sure, but videostrong is highly unlikely
that souldn’t be so much difficult to implement if we have the right drivers, TBS5520 open source drivers should do the job just fine I think, besides Amlogic has already published the S905 linux Kernel, so Openelec build shouldn’t be so faraway

Gotan
Gotan
4 years ago

@natsu

I think bigger issue for this Videostrong box and issue on end for users is lack of support for AC3 which means no audio on HD channels which is for 99% people not good solution, as then they need buy AVR which cost 10 times more than this box

Jay
4 years ago

Isn’t the Zidoo X6 Pro Wi-Fi a/c? Your Wi-Fi comparison chart says it’s 802.11n.

paul taraneh
paul taraneh
4 years ago

It’s a let down to be told that the box would like to offer certain features but can’t or wont. Such a shame they we”re left to the product engineering samples of yesteryears business class

mdel
mdel
4 years ago

@Jean-Luc Aufranc (CNXSoft) Do you plan on making a list of arm tuner boxes (dvb), as you did for the s905 boxes ? I’m looking for a cheap dvb box at the moment and considering the state of that K1, i’ll skip it.. I don’t understand why those cheap manufacturers persist on producing their own software which will by all standards be buggy or at list limited. Being a “linux only” guy, my better option at the moment is using a well supported box (some s905 or s812, or even h3 it seems) and use an external usb tuner. I… Read more »

xxx
xxx
4 years ago

what about youtube,it can not be fluid at all???

when cpu,gpu overheat, it will restart by itself.

xxx
xxx
4 years ago

Did you test it again ,maybe some latest sw?

xxx
xxx
4 years ago

Interesting view.
Now i will send my invoice to them, to pay me my testing and my lost time!

smile;smile

Karine-Johanne
Karine-Johanne
4 years ago

Hi, i’m a complete newbie here (but experienced DVB user otherwise).
Which DVB-S2 (and possibly T2) android box would you all recommened at this time ? I’m hearing great things about openelec.
Basically, i’m looking at stability, picture quality, extras like softcam compatibility, streaming / sat>ip support…
So the question is which one would you actually buy for your daily DVB needs ?

Regards

mdel
mdel
4 years ago

@Karine-Johanne At the moment that k1+ s2/t2 will not work with openelec, at least the dvb part won’t work as the tuner has no linux drivers. Now which box has good openelec/dvb support, well wetek play not much else, but that box is old and its hardware (video decoder) is not up to date. A new wetek box is coming out in april, and should have good dvb support as well but will probably be in the 100-150e price range. I have not looked into that price range so it’s probable that you’ll find other boxes with linux or openelec… Read more »

landcruser
landcruser
4 years ago

you are warm hearted i wonder if it is for sure the wetek play + could buy in april ? in that case l will wait.

totFR
totFR
4 years ago

Hello,

I’ve unfortunatly brought the K1 + DVB T2/S2 box but in france the DVB HD channels stream EAC3 sound (dolbu digital +) .
So there is no sound in the DTV apps provided with the box which is in the latest firmware (dated from end of febuary) .
Is there a solution to installe EAC3 codec for the DTV apps ? Or is there an update of that apps , i can’t find it on google play..?

Thank you for all people which can help me.

totFR
totFR
4 years ago

hello,

No only EAC3 track available.. Could you please tell me how workaround with kodi ?

Build in kodi app work ok with ac3 sound track (didn’t test yet with EAC3 because i don’t have video with EAC3 track)

THK

mdel
mdel
4 years ago

@totFR i don’t have that box, i’ll get the old k1 dvb s2 in a few weeks to test linux/openelec on it, i expect it will have the same dvb app, but from what i understood so far, their android tv app also uses tvheadend as the dvb “pvr” backend (server), and kodi should be able to act as a frontend (client) for it. You can try to install kodi pvr addon or follow a tutorial to configure tvheadend on kodi and see if it works. Of course try to read an eac3 stream with kodi first, if your kodi… Read more »

natsu
natsu
4 years ago

@totFR
with the DTV app there is no way to play AC3, the only solution is to get TVHEADEND or CESBO to work as backends for KODI, if it works
you can contact me on my email “[email protected]” for further instructions

landcruser
landcruser
4 years ago

You are heart warmed i wonder if it is undoubt the wetek play + can be bought in april?

totFR
totFR
4 years ago

Thank you to all, I will test kodi /tvheadend,

I found on these links for the DTV app which seems include ac3 decoding libray (libth_dtv_pi.so).
I don’t know if i can use that library or install that DTV app on the K1 plus …

totFR
totFR
4 years ago
Karine-Johanne
Karine-Johanne
4 years ago

@mdel
Thanks for the detailed replay ! Iguess I’ll be playing around with my old Atom based server, get all my tuners hooked up to it, istall the latest Ubuntu along with TVHeadend and VDR, and see what comes out of it.

natsu
natsu
4 years ago

first MOD OPENELEC by Vitaley S like usual
https://cloud.mail.ru/public/ELLt/ayp1UULS4
some instructions from vitaley to be found on this page
http://4pda.ru/forum/index.php?showtopic=663195&st=2500#entry47621160
you can give it a try, I think with OPENELEC SW decoding of AC3 might resolve the problem

mdel
mdel
4 years ago

@natsu
apparently Vitaliy_S openelec for the k1+ dvb, works but without dvb support, the s2/t2 tuner doesn’t have linux drivers.
I’m not a 100% sure about this but that’s what i understand from the text in red from the link your posted above and what i was told on another forum.

Also Vitaliy_S’ main image is for the k1 dvb (s805 s2), not the k1+ dvb (s905 s2/t2) so make sure you don’t mix them up.
Anyways you can try those images on sd card and see for yourself..

mdel
mdel
4 years ago

@Jean-Luc Aufranc (CNXSoft) is there a k1+ s2 only, or is it only the s2 part that would work ? i thought the k1+ (s905) had s2/t2 (“universal” dvb tuner), and the k1 (s805) has s2 which is working with his original vitmod os (not tested yet personally but reported to work by others). I could not get a confirmation that s2 is working on k1+ (s2/t2) with vitmod os images. my other guess was that you could put a k1 s2 tuner on the k1+ and then have s2 working on k1+ but that would mean the mainboard /… Read more »

mdel
mdel
4 years ago

@Jean-Luc Aufranc (CNXSoft) well if you still have both devices it would be quite interesting to check that out, or at least you could boot that vitmod os for k1+ from sdcard and see what comes out. Another interesting thing to do would be to compare the two boards side by side and see how different the s905 board is from the s805 one, my guess would be they should be very similar in terms of component density and placement, no matter the new specs (4k, hdmi 2..) and arch offered by the more recent soc. Another thing i was… Read more »

zirali1981
zirali1981
4 years ago

Remember guys if you buy from Banggood use the 10% off app on your android device which should reduce it further to about $54 and I do hope there will be a stable rom or something soon….

xxx
xxx
4 years ago

where is promotional code?

frolix8
frolix8
4 years ago

Hi
I receive a K1 plus T2 & S2, S2 work but not T2 , DVB-T2 find no channels (automatic search,signal 99% quality 0%) in FRANCE, home antenna is OK work fine on several TV & others DVB-T(2) receivers, can somebody help me , thanks ?

totFR
totFR
4 years ago

@frolix8
Vérifie que la masse de ton connecteur antenne touche bien la masse du K1.
(connecteur antenne doit être du 9.5mm)

frolix8
frolix8
4 years ago

@totFR
c’est un connecteur 9.52mm, fonctionne correctement sur une TV et un récepteur openbox V8 pro combo, la masse est OK, testée avec un multimètre (ohmmètre) depuis la masse du câble antenne aux connecteurs de la K1 (GND sat,tnt et DC).

wwortel
wwortel
4 years ago

@totFR @totFR the links to DTV App and Launcher I cannot open. Can you provide them in some other way? That the decoding is not working may also be due to a wrong interpretation by the dtv app of the provider’s information in the dvb stream about the coding used. For the Vigica C100S (S805 with S2 tuner) I have published some Python scripts to sort and edit the channel information. AC3 audio reproduction should be possible to judge from the app’s libraries that mention for audio: MPEG1 MPEG2 AC3 EAC3 AAC_LATM DTS and MEPG. The audio mode is just… Read more »

toto
toto
4 years ago

@frolix8

Slt,
Quand tu es dans le menu de recherche des chaines, appuies sur le bouton “menu” de la télécommande.
Va dans “DTV preference”
puis “general settings”
dans “area setting” choisis “france”
puis 2x “back” sur la télécommande
choisis “installation”
et scanne tes chaines

ça devrait marcher

nnn
nnn
4 years ago

Hello, I tried to make this box work, and it turns out it is hell : -the remote controller does not work (I found out accidentally that on/off was mapped on the EPG button, and no other button seems to do what it is expected to do) -when I launched DTV, it did not found a channel (located in France too) -no access to google play or google servers (but internet access is working ) – online firmware update does not find anything. Do not feel like the long wait was worth it. Any idea where I could get a… Read more »

xxx
xxx
4 years ago

Do not buy this device!!!!!

It is disaster device!!!

nnn
nnn
4 years ago

Installed latest firmware, but the remote control still does not work. Could connect to google. Any idea about how I could reconfigure the device to use another remote ?

J’ai installé le dernier firmware, mais la télécommande ne fonctionne toujours pas. J’ai pu me connecter sur les serveurs google. Une idée sur comment je pourrais reconfigurer le bouzin pour utiliser une autre télécommande ?

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