Hailstorm Device Scaling Program To Enable Netflix Support on Amlogic and HiSilicon TV Boxes

If you’ve ever bought a random TV box you may have found out Netflix does not always work optimally, for example, HD or 4K UHD may not be available due to the lack of DRM, and/or Netflix certification even if you’re paying extra for the service.

So you need to make sure you get a certified device and there aren’t that many. But thanks to Netflix Hailstorm – a program aiming at scaling the number of device officially supporting Netflix – we should see more and more TV box running Android TV with full Netflix support.

Netflix Hailstorm Partners
Image Source: Android TV Rumors

I found about the Hailstorm program via an Amlogic press release, but the photo above shows some TV boxes based on HiSilicon processors will also be supported, and TV boxes manufacturers such as SDMC, Skyworth, and Himedia have joined the program.

Amlogic explains they have now achieved pre-certification for its Android TV set top box (STB) reference solutions, and various Asia-Pacific (APAC) operators have expressed interest in their TV boxes solutions compliant with Netflix Hailstorm program. Amlogic offers three Netflix Android TV solutions:

  • Amlogic S905X Android TV 4K OTT STB
  • Amlogic S805X Android TV 2K OTT STB
  • Amlogic S805X Android TV 2K OTT Dongle

The company showcased them in the last few days at the APAC Android TV Summit 2018, taking place on Nov. 13-15, 2018 at the Berkeley Hotel Pratunam in Bangkok, Thailand. SDMC was also there to exhibit their 4K STB for Netflix Hailstorm Program, and other TV boxes. It’s still unclear when those will be available for sale, and how consumers will be able to find out which box is part of Hailstorm program.

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draganpavlovic
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draganpavlovic

About time…i still don’t get the whole DRM shit. So if i wanna watch Show X or Movie Y illegally i can and will do that. Every movie/series ect. shows up on some Kodi Addon, Site, App or whatever someone wanna use. So by PAYING for Netflix I should be able to watch it on the device I like. Whats going to be prevented by using the DRM ? Not the illegal use for sure, show me one movie (or series) that is on netflix and nowhere else….there is none.

51333
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51333

If you are a paying customer, you really want your Netflix stream to be great almost the time.
That’s why they approve certain devices. They make a TON of tests before certifying a device.

Part of this Hailstorm program also means Netflix wants operator to have a remote with a direct access to their app.

SEI Robotics is the OEM behind the just-launched Android TV Dongle from Indian operator Hathway (OTH-100).
You an bet it’s part of the Hailstorm program as it also comes with Netflix.
https://sites.google.com/view/droid-tv/pay-tv-provider/hathway-play-box

Also check this Geekbench, that’s an Amlogic S805X device (SEI100) called SEI Robotics Hailstorm.
https://browser.geekbench.com/v4/cpu/10076938

TLS
Guest
TLS

You must be joking, right? Almost any device these days can play back Netflix content at 1080p. If anything, the limit would be your internet connection, not the playback device.

51333
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51333

I was specifically talking about TV-type devices (STB, Streaming devices, Gaming consoles, TV sets, etc).
Playing a 4K stream requires more testing than a 720p or 1080p one on a phone.

And for those (tv), Netflix is indeed testing a lot of stuff before approving anything.

TLS
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TLS

How so? If the box can output the correct resolution and play the video/audio stream correctly, what more testing is needed? Playing H.264 or VC-1 isn’t really something special today. H.265 is a little bit different, but quite common place for 1080p decoding at least. I don’t really get your point here, as it’s not as if these boxes are crap at playing back video content, they’re based on the same or similar core hardware as that in your phone, which you claim wouldn’t need to be tested. And how many people are actually watching Netflix in 4K? I minority I would say. So go ahead, do some extra testing on the 4K side, but hardware limited to 1080 playback shouldn’t have to have any kind of special testing.

51333
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51333

This is something multiple people working on Android TV at Netflix told me.
I guess they have more knowledge than you and me on this particular subject.

TLS
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TLS

Look, I’m not saying Netflix isn’t demanding the testing to be done, I’m question why they feel it’s needed on what’s commodity hardware by now.

Enis
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Enis

Wrong they talk about Android TV not Android ASOP.

rubin kim
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rubin kim

You have no clue what you are talking about. There are even legit Google certified AndroidTV boxes that lack Netflix authorization. The app won’t even install much less run..

On generic boxes with AOSP phone/tablet android, you’re lucky if Netflix will stream at 480p, if at all, regardless of what level of Netflix service you pay for.

In addition to Netflix approval and certification for your streaming device, if the screen you are connected to lacks proper DRM features,, Netflix will only stream at 480p, if at all.

theguyuk
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theguyuk

Netflix sure like to confuse their offerings to customers, in one part of the world they are launching a cheaper subscription offer for mobile users.
So why not cheaper subscription for TV box users who only get lower resolution shows, films.

TLS
Guest
TLS

That’s already the case, you have to pay more to get 4K content. No-one is going to want a 480p tier.

ade
Guest
ade

I guess this requires a non-rootable device and locked bootloader ?
(N.B. by the way I have a side question : I read that Oneplus devices could be sent back to Oneplus factory in order to install the proper Widevine certificates/DRM https://www.xda-developers.com/oneplus-5t-netflix-amazon-prime-video-hd/ , however I wonder whether a side-effect is that they would make the bootloader non unlockable as required by Widevine L1 https://storage.googleapis.com/wvdocs/Widevine_DRM_Getting_Started_Devices.pdf ? I could not find any detailed info about it…)

Mihai
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I see people are already complaining about locked bootloaders and the lack of DRM. I, for one, would love to get an update (even paid update – not more than maybe 10 USD) so that my Q10 Pro would have Widevine Level 1 and to be certified by Google. How can this be implemented into existing boxes? There are quite a few good boxes without the proper DRM support and Q10 Pro (with a Himedia chipset) is one of them. I would sacrifice the ability to unlock the bootloader for the ability to have Widevine level 1.

Fun fact: I recently ran into an issue when I enabled Developer Settings into my Note 8 and OEM unlock (remember, just the ability to unlock the bootloader, I did not unlock the bootloader). My Note 8 lost its Play Store/Google certification, it appeared as uncertified and also lost the updates on some apps (Netflix being one of them). I was confused and I fixed the issue by disabling OEM unlock. All went back to normal in a matter of minutes (5-10 minutes). This is what we have to fight. I did the same thing on my Mediapad M3 and the device still appears as certified in Play Store. Basically a device that has the ability to be unlocked is not the same as an unlocked device.

Cha J.H.
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Cha J.H.

God! Finally!. It was too hard to find certified devices or cheap TV box which using kinda hacked netflix app with Mibox&Shield ‘s product ID. Thanks for good news! Tons of bullshit work to find proper device even after subscribing 4K membership seem finally over?