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ARNU Box Mach 10 64-bit Pure Linux TV Box Review

In part 1 of ARNU Box Mach 10 64-bit Pure Linux review, I listed the specifications, and took some pictures of the Amlogic S905 based TV box, and its board. I’ve now completed testing of this Kodi Linux media player, going though setup and add-ons, and see how it works compared to ARNU Box Mach 10 Pure Linux based on Amlogic S812 processor.

ARNU_Box_Mach_10_64-bit

Setup, Cloudword and Configuration

The setup part is basically the same as on the previous model, but I’ll go through it again. Please ignore the vertical white line on the TV in the photos below, as it’s just due to my 18 months old LG 42UB820T 4K UHD television being partially broken, and out of warranty.

The boot will typically take 30 seconds, but the first time, you’ll go through ARNU Box Setup Wizard.

ARNU_Box_Setup_WizardYou could skip it in theory, but it’s still a good idea to go through it, so I’ve clicked on Next bringing me to the Network Setup.
ARNU_Box_Pure_Linux_Network_SetupI’m going to use Ethernet for this review, but I’ve still clicked on Wifi Manager to check it out, and for some reasons only one of my access points was detected, while the other two 2.4GHz and 5.0 GHz, namely CNX-TRANSLATION (on a router 6 meters away) and CNX-SOFTWARE_5GHZ (on the same router as CNX-SOFTWARE access points) were not listed even after clicking on Refresh. ARNU Box is support to support dual band WiFi according to the specs.
ARNU_Box_Mach_10_Pure_Linux_64-bit_WiFi_SetupSo there’s a potential issue here, but I clicked on cancel, and Next to carry on with Ethernet connectivity, and enter the Firmware Update section.
ARNU_Box_Pure_Linux_64-bit_Firmware_UpdateSo I clicked on Update Now, a new firmware was detected, and asked to go ahead with the update and the download started.
ARNU_Box_Mach_10_64-bit_OTA_Firmware_UpdateThe system will then reboot to perform the firmware update, which should take about 2 or 3 minutes, and you’ll be taken to the next part of the Wizard: Restore & Backup.
ARNU_Box_Backup_Restore
This part is mostly useful if you had a previous ARNU box TV box, or made a fresh install, as this would allow you to restore the settings, add-ons, etc... Since I don’t have any backup files, I skipped that step, and clicked on Next… [Update: The restore function also supports backups make with OpenELEC backup and the Kodi backup add-on, so if you have other TV boxes based on Kodi or OpenELEC, you can also import your settings and add-ons, as Restore & Backup can handle the conversion. See comment from developer]
ARNU_Box_Mach_10_64-bit_Screen_calibration
Screen calibration is for overscan compensation, when the user interface sides are truncated. Most recent televisions have an “underscan” setting, for example LG refers to it as “Just Scan”, so the problem does not occur. But if you TV does not have that options, or you use composite (AV) output you may have to adjust the screen size. Next up is the Skin Selector.

ARNU_Box_SkinsARNUBox KODI, Confluence, and EmbERMod skins are installed, but others can be loaded on the device too. I just went with the default.

ARNU_Box_Video_ScanThe other two steps are for Videos and Music scanning, which will go through all your files and retrieve some metadata and pretty pictures for your media library. It’s a common part of all Kodi devices, so I went to the next step: Cloudword add-on installer.

Install_a_cloudwordThe way is works is after clicking on “Install a Cloudword”, you have to type a word…. Where can you find those? Some are listed in the user’s manual.

Cloudword_List

In my previous ARNU box review, I went with “uk”, but this time I went with “usa”, and the system downloaded the add-ons and recommended me to reboot once it was done, which I did.

Cloudword_USA

There was a heated debate in the comments section of my review of ARNU Box Mach 10 Pure Linux (Amlogic S812) last tear, mostly because Cloudword is part of the list of banned add-ons on Kodi forums. But just like with the old box, the new ARNU Box does not come pre-loaded with any add-ons, and “usa” cloudword does not appear to have installed any add-ons streaming pirated contents.  But since I’m not exactly a specialist about piracy issues, I’ve taken a few pictures with the list of add-ons so you can decide by yourself.

Cloudword_add-ons_1 Cloudword_add-ons_2 Cloudword_add-ons_3

All sources appear to be legit to me. I think the reason it’s banned on Kodi forums is that people can create their own keyword to install piracy add-ons, and Kodi developers wanted to stop questions about that. But from my point of view, Cloudword is just a downloader and installer, and the keywords provided in the user’s manual all link to legit content (AFAICT). Saying Cloudword is “illegal” is like saying BitTorrent, Kodi add-on system itself, or even computers are illegal. So that’s just to say ARNU Box Mach 10 Pure Linux 64-bit is perfectly clean.

Back to the Setup Wizard… The next step is finally the “Setup Complete” screen.
ARNU_Box_Pure_Linux_Wizard_Complete

You can click Finish, and access the user interface using ARNUBox Kodi skin.ARNU_Box_Pure_Linux_64-bit_Home_Screen

But setup is not quite done, as you may have three or four more steps to do:

  1. Time zone selection – Go to System->Settings->Appearance->International, and select your Timezone country, and if needed Timezone.
  2. Output resolution – The media player was set to 720p60 output automatically, so I went to  Settings->System->Video Output, and change the Resolution and Frame Rate to 3840x2160p and 60 to make full use of the ability of my 4K TV.ARNU_Box_Pure_Linux_3840x2160_60Hz
  3. Automatic frame rate switching – This is optional, but some videos will play much more smoothly if you adjust this setting, simply because video frame rate and screen refresh rate will match. Go to Settings->Video, change Level to Advanced, go to Playback, and finally change Adjust display refresh rate to Always or On start / stop. ARNU_Box_Mach_10_64-bit_adjust_display_refresh_rate
  4. Audio pass-through configuration. This is only needed if you own an A/V receiver, and the system currently only supports Dolby abd DTS pass-through. HD Audio (TrueHD/DTS-HD) is not supported.

Sp overall, the setup wizard is quite useful, and easy to follow, and Cloudword allows you to install add-ons baed on your country or favorite subject quite easily. It would have been nice to included time & date, as well as video output in the wizard too.

Video and Audio Playback

The TV box runs EmbER 4.0.1 operating system on top of Linux 3.14.65, and the firmware is based on Kodi 16.1.ARNU_Box_Mach_10_64-Bit_System_InfoI could connect to my SAMBA share where videos are located without issues. I had to type the password with the IR remote control, which is not ideal, but since it’s a one time setup thing, that’s no big deal. I played all videos from SAMBA through the Gigabit Ethernet interface, but I also connected my hardware with NTFS, EXT-4, exFAT, and BTRFS, and only the NTFS partition was recognized.

I started by playing samplemedia.linaro.org and Elecard H.265/HEVC video samples up to 1080p:

  • 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 1080p – OK
  • H.265 codec / MPEG TS container – 1080p  – OK.

All good, let’s switch to videos with various bitrates:

  • ED_HD.avi (1080p H.264 ~10 Mbps) – Stays in UI, audio only
  • big_buck_bunny_1080p_surround.avi (1080p H.264 – 12 Mbps) – OK.
  • h264_1080p_hp_4.1_40mbps_birds.mkv (40 Mbps) – First try: black screen and I had to turn off the box with the remote control to restart it. Second try: OK.
  • hddvd_demo_17.5Mbps_1080p_VC1.mkv (17.5Mbps) – Not quite smooth
  • Jellyfish-120-Mbps.mkv (120 Mbps video without audio) – Network: Black screen and I had to turn off the box with the remote control to restart it (repeated twice); I also tried to play the video from the USB hard drive, and I got the same result.

So two videos lead to black screen requiring a reboot, that’s a little worrying… Let’s carry on with some audio tests with PCM 2.0 output, and HDMI pass-through using Onkyo TX-NR636 A/V receiver.

Audio Codec used in Video PCM 2.0 Output HDMI pass-through
AC3 / Dolby Digital 5.1 Audio OK, but video not smooth Audio OK (DD 5.1), but video not smooth
E-AC-3 / Dolby Digital+ 5.1 OK OK, except short “fart” noise once
Dolby Digital+ 7.1 OK PCM 2.0
TrueHD 5.1 OK PCM 2.0
TrueHD 7.1 OK Blue screen , i.e. HDMI output down, equivalent to black screen problem when A/V receiver is turned off. Reproduced twice
Dolby Atmos 7.1 OK PCM 2.0
DTS HD Master Black screen, device requires reboot Blue screen
DTS HD High Resolution OK DTS 5.1
DTS:X OK DTS 5.1 (after first short noise at the very beginning)

That’s disappointing. First, HD audio is not supported at all (even in the settings), and Dolby and DTS seem to work but I could hear noise from once in two of the short video samples. Turning on the A/V receiver also helped me discover more details about the previously found “black screen”, as it’s clear the device does not actually hang, and I can still control it to turn it off with the remote control, but my problem is that the HDMI connection is lost with some videos. It’s quite possible this is specific to my television (interoperability issue), and most people won’t encounter this problem.

But let’s not give up just yet, and instead play some 4K videos:

  • HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4 – OK
  • sintel-2010-4k.mkv – OK
  • Beauty_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265 @ 30 fps) –  OK
  • Bosphorus_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265 @ 30 fps) – OK
  • Jockey_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_TS.ts (H.265 @ 30 fps) – OK
  • MHD_2013_2160p_ShowReel_R_9000f_24fps_RMN_QP23_10b.mkv (10-bit HEVC) – OK
  • BT.2020.20140602.ts (Rec.2020 compliant video; 36 Mbps) – OK
  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_30fps.mp4 – OK
  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_60fps.mp4 – Not smooth and audio delay (expected since not supported by S905).
  • 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) – OK
  • Astra-11479_V_22000-Canal+ UHD Demo 42.6 Mbps bitrate.ts (10-bit H.265 from DVB-S2 stream) – OK
  • Ducks Take Off [2160p a 243 Mbps].mkv (4K H.264 @ 30 fps; 243 Mbps; no audio) – Takes a while to start, and not that smooth. No buffering shown during playback however.

The results here are excellent, as all videos that were supposed to play did so very nicely, and somehow the “black screen” bug did not kick in.

Sadly, it came back with a vengeance when I tried 1080p and 720p Hi10p videos, which makes it wonder if the bug happens when changing when the video resolution does not match video output resolution.

Both Sintel-Bluray.iso and amat.iso videos played fine, and you could switch between chapters easily with the page up and down buttons, as well as change subtiles and audio tracks quickly using the corresponding buttons on the remote.

My TV does not support 3D videos, but I still cheked if the system could decode them, and in the case of MVC videos checked whether my A/V receiver detects a 3D signal as it does with Zidoo X1 II:

  • bbb_sunflower_1080p_60fps_stereo_abl.mp4 (1080p Over/Under) – Not super smooth, and audio delay
  • bbb_sunflower_2160p_60fps_stereo_abl.mp4 (2160p Over/Under) – Black screen, audio only
  • Turbo_Film-DreamWorks_trailer_VO_3D.mp4 (1080p SBS) – OK
  • 3D-full-MVC.mkv (Full-frame packed MVC 3D MKV) – 2D mode only (no 3D icon shown on Onkyo receiver), and not smooth at all.
  • ISO-full3D-sample.iso (Full-frame packed MVC 3D ISO) – “Blue screen” (lost HDMI connection), and reboot required.

Other Remarks and Conclusion

Contrary to my experience with Android TV boxes, the remote control has been designed with Kodi use in mind, so you get trick modes with play/pause, fwd, frwd, etc… as well as direct access to Kodi functions such as Home, zoom level, subtitle, audio track, setup and so on.

They’ve also changed the way power is handled, and while Mach 10 (S812) supported standby and reboot, Mach 10 64-bit supports proper power off. I measured power consumption in four different cases:

  • Power off – 1.3 Watt
  • Power off with USB HDD – 1.3 Watt
  • Idle – 5.0 Watts
  • Idle with USB HDD – 6.4 Watts

The good news is that the USB ports are turned off in power off, so your hard drive is not powered on all the time. The off and idle power consumption could be a little bit lower though.

I’ve summarized the positives and negatives of the device below:

PROS

  • Very good Kodi 16.1 video support including 4K H.265 & H.264 videos, and working automatic frame rate switching for smoother videos
  • Easy setup thanks to Setup Wizard during the very first boot
  • Cloudword makes installing country or interest specific add-ons an easy task
  • Remote control designed for Kodi use
  • The device build quality feels good thanks to metal look and LCD display
  • OTA firmware update

CONS

  • HDMI audio pass-through needs some work: I had some noises from time to time with Dolby and DTS, and HD audio is not supported so no TrueHD and DTS-HD pass-through
  • Intermittent HDMI connection loss when starting playing some videos (at least with my LG TV / Onkyo receiver)
  • Potential WiFi issues as the system only detected one out of three of my access points.
  • File system support: only NTFS was detected on my hard drive (no EXT-4, no exFAT)

So the device is working pretty well, except for three potentially critical issues depending on your setup or requirements. The good news is that firmware updates should keep coming, and hopefully fix the most important bugs over time.

I’d like to thank Theaterinabox for providing the sample, and if you are interested in this ARNU Box Mach 10 64-bit Pure Linux TV box, the company should start selling it by the end of July, hopefully with some fixes for the issues I found, next to its Mach 10 64-bit Android 5.1 TV box going for $99.99.

  1. July 10th, 2016 at 03:18 | #1

    With regard to the backup restoration feature: “This part is mostly useful if you had a previous ARNU box TV box, or made a fresh install, as this would allow you to restore the settings, add-ons, etc…”.
    Ember restore supports restoring backups that are made on other systems too. Such as openelec backup and the Kodi backup add-on. It converts these other systems backups before restoring it on Ember. Added this to help transition new users to the firmware.

  2. July 10th, 2016 at 09:22 | #2

    @Josh.5
    Thanks for the correction, I’ve updated the post accordingly. Are backups compatible across operating systems too? Let’s say I have Kodi 16.1 installed on a Windows computer, can I export the backup through the export add-on in Windows, and restore that backup in ARNU Box?

    • July 10th, 2016 at 12:03 | #3

      To a point. I suppose it will not handle platform specific binaries. If you have an add-on on windows that runs a binary compiled for windows, then when that backup is restored on an arm platform like Ember, it will not work. But for the most part, all Kodi specific settings and configurations like addons, database, media locations, etc. They will restore fine from your windows machine. I’ve tested it from Kodi on Ubuntu and an openelec machine using their respective backup utilities. And restoring to ember. There are a few openelec specific addons that cannot work. Like their services such as tvheadend. For that you will need yo re-install tvheadend through our services tab in the system settings add-on and then set it up again.

  3. Mr Netflixer
    July 10th, 2016 at 10:15 | #4

    Are these ARNU guys trying to be magicians. I mean jeez talk about trying to hoodwink customers with relatively expensive S905 AMLogic devices that don’t even work properly.

    As an example there are now a multitude of Linux based S905 boxes running OpenELEC or LibreELEC Kodi about that runs rings around what is being offered by ARNU at much lower prices in some cases. With virtually all Kodi A/V bugs squashed.

    Thirdly where is the comprehensive HDMI-CEC remote control testing the much better supported S905 boxes now provide as standard ?
    This should now be a required test for any Linux based AMLogic box, volume control over HDMI of a connected AVR.

  4. July 10th, 2016 at 10:39 | #5

    @Mr Netflixer
    I’m not a big fan of HDMI-CEC. It does not work on most boxes I’ve tried, and for the ones that worked, it only support on/off, other keys are not supported. It can also created some confusion when it’s enabled by default, as people may wonder why their TV switches off automatically when the TV box is turned off.

    It’s working reasonably well with the TV while using the AV receiver, but I still prefer the TV remote control, so I virtually never use it even though it’s setup.

    Maybe I should try with the Raspberry Pi, as it should work better.

  5. Iridiumsat
    July 11th, 2016 at 08:06 | #6

    HDMI CEC does work from the day Raspberry Pi was introduced. That was the first time I tried XBMC (a former of Kodi) and found out that all TV box should be supported this feature. It’s a “must have” feature!

  6. Harley
    July 11th, 2016 at 17:08 | #7

    Even if it is true that piracy “addons” (ie. ‘apps’) are not pre-installed, what is installed is repos (repositories) that do host piracy addons so that users can search and install illegal addons themselves directly from the GUI.

    You can compare it to a store selling an jailbreaked iPhone with Cydia pre-installed with a bunch of links to repos (repositories) that host pirated apps and games. Sure the pirated apps and games are not pre-installed but you have enabled it for the user so it takes no effort to install pirated apps when the repos have already been added by the store.

    This is promoting piracy because the added repos (repositories) hosting piracy addons are pre-installed so that piracy addons can be installed from the GUI without warnings or hints to the user that those are actually piracy addons.

  7. July 11th, 2016 at 17:11 | #8

    @Harley
    How can I see the list of installed repos?

  8. Wyatt
    July 12th, 2016 at 05:20 | #9

    @Harley

    Funny how I see Harley out posting on every Arnubox review finding some way to hate on them. First of all your statement leads me to believe your just like most bottom feeders on the internet spitting out crap you know nothing about.

    Any Kodi can have piracy content enabled with a clean blank install of Kodi on any plat form just by a couple YouTube videos for any rookie out there. If honestly all you can do is waste the digital space of the internet with your crazy please move on were all stocked up here.

  9. Harley
    July 12th, 2016 at 14:47 | #10

    @cnxsoft Check the file system for the install where you should find a directory called “addons”, it will contain a lot of subdirectories which use a “prefix.” naming-scheme, and on a clean should contain once directory named “repository.xbmc.org” but no other directories named “repository.*” (using “repository.” as prefix). And I would think that ArnuBox contain more, and likely those other repositories are also on the banned list:

    http://kodi.wiki/view/Official:Forum_rules/Banned_add-ons

    @Wyatt I also hate GPL violators, so you can troll something about that too if you want, the troll that you are. Because trolling is what you are doing when you make a insulting post like that without any constructive criticism. I’m a Kodi fan and a fan of cnxsoft blog and comment on A LOT of his articles, and not only about piracy or GPL. Now crawl back under your bridge!

    I simply feel that since piracy is obviously illegal then if cnxsoft want to be serious blogger then he should not endorse products that promote piracy, and instead take the moral high-ground and be frank about what the people behind the product stand for. Then is the fact that I hate to keep seeing Kodi’s reputation being dragged through the mud which makes it look like a dirty software by sheer assosiation. It is things like this that made Amazon ban Kodi from their App Store.

    Yes is is relativly easy to install piracy addons and repos on a clean Kodi install, but it not super easly, because on a clean install it takes a choice and a willing effort to actuually go out and seek our piracy stuff, which is does not on ArnuBox where users can install piracy addons from GUI without knowing they are illegal.

  10. neerryal
    July 13th, 2016 at 02:20 | #11

    @Harley
    Do you own a ARNU Box to verify this? There is just the ARNU repo, Kodi repo and ember repo. You are just assuming at this point with a statement such as “I would think that”. I own an ARNU Box and I can tell you that is what comes stock for repositories. You should complain about OpenELEC also since they just don’t have the Kodi repository with their stock installation.

    You have been posting the same negative things about ARNU Box as soon as their review comes out and nothing constructive about other systems. So yes you are trolling. How is Kodi’s name being dragged in the mud from this review?

    Once again you are adding the banned add-ons link from the Kodi wiki. I’m just going to put this across. This is listed on their Wiki

    “4. “Pirated content” add-ons, websites, and services typically do not include the following (to be determined on a case-by-case basis if necessary):

    B. The add-on has the potential to access pirated content, but is potentially useful for downloading legal content as well. [For example, an add-on that downloads torrents is not, itself, a problem, since a torrent can cover a wide variety content, including legally distributed videos.] ”

    So I guess you are against torrents to? You should tell Kodi to take out all Torrent applications they have on their repository or are have an association to since this is dragging their own name through the mud allowing people to download legal and illegal content. You should continue with your ongoing investigation and collecting clues… or better yet purchase an ARNU Box to check for yourself.

    Stop assuming already.

    With your statements, you should be attacking all users that have a web browser and know how to type on a keyboard.

    Have a great day!

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