An Interview with a TV Box Manufacturer: Shenzhen Tomato

Shenzhen Tomato Logo

I’ve been interviewing Jojo Zhou, Sales Manager at Shenzhen Tomato Technology, a TV box manufacturer, over email to learn a bit more about the TV box market, and various challenges encountered by manufacturers. CNXSoft: We’ve already covered several products sold by Shenzhen Tomato on CNX Software, but for readers who may not know the company yet, could you provide a short description of the company? Jojo Zhou: With over 8-years of experience, Shenzhen Tomato Technology Co., Ltd has become one of the leading OEM/ODM manufacturers specialized in developing Android TV Box, IPTV Set Top Box, Android Media Player, Hybrid Set Top Box and media solution. ODM and OEM is our main advantage, including hardware design and software customize (such as driver porting, kernel modification, etc). We have a first-class R&D team of 30 energetic engineers with rich experience to focus on that. A strict and complete quality control system is built to ensure each product has been strictly inspected before …

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Google OTT Turnkey Solution to Deliver Fast-to-Market Pre-Certified 4K HDR Dongles

Google OTT Turnkey

Despite Google offering Android TV for an optimized big screen experience, many TV boxes are still running a heavily modified version of Android for smartphone, since it’s not that trivial for manufacturers and TV operators to get certification for Android TV. Operators normally just want their own branded hardware with their own streaming app and/or launcher, and “Google OTT Turnkey” aims to help this section of the market by providing pre-certified OTT (Over-The-Top) hardware with low investment and a quick time to market. The dongle/TV box will come with a voice remote control, include certified for Google services and Netflix, receive firmware from Google, while still allowing operators’ customization. The solution would allow a time to market of about 2 to 3 months. We learned about Google OTT Turnkey in the first part of “the Android TV Workshop” at the Connected TV World Summit 2019. The solution is quickly mentioned at the 6:03 mark. That’s not an awful lot of …

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HiMedia S1 TV Dongle Runs Android TV, Supports Netflix 4K

HiSilicon Hi3798MV200 media processor was announced in 2016 as a cost-down version of Hi3798CV200 processor for 4K TV boxes, and the next year I reviewed HiMedia Q30 TV box powered by the processor. Video playback was great with good 4K support and excellent video quality, although WiFi could have been better. Anyway, the processor has been around for a while, so yet another model with the SoC would not normally be newsworthy. Except HiMedia S1 is a little different, as the company confirmed the TV box is part of Netflix Hailstorm device scaling program meaning it officially supports Netflix 4K out of the box. HiMedia S1 specifications: SoC – HiSilicon Hi3798M V200 quad-core Arm Cortex A53 processor with Arm Mali-450MP GPU supporting OpenGL ES2.0/1.1, OpenVG1.1, EGL System Memory – 1 GB or 2 GB DDR3 Storage – 8 GB eMMC flash Video & Audio Output – Micro HDMI 2.0a up to 4K @ 60 Hz with HDR/HDR10 support Video Engine …

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

Netflix Hailstorm Partners

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. 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 …

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AV1 Video Samples Now Available on YouTube & Netflix

Youtube AV1 Video

We first covered AV1 royalty-free, open source video codec in 2016, which with backing from companies like Google, Amazon, Intel, Microsoft, and many others with the aim to compete with H.265, and lower the cost of delivering video both thanks to a better compression ratio, and the lack of royalties. Since then progress has been made, with AV1 specifications released last March, and now both YouTube and Netflix are offering some beta AV1 video samples for testing. If you want to play some videos in AV1 format in YouTube as I did in the screenshot above, you’d need to install a very recent (beta) version of Chrome or Firefox, follow the other instructions as explained in YouTube’s AV1 beta playlist: Support for AV1 in MP4 within Media Source is available in Chrome 70, and Firefox 63 builds newer than September 13 with the media.av1.enabled pref set. Using a supported browser and choosing the ‘Prefer AV1 for SD’ setting on youtube.com/testtube, …

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$38 Nexbox A95X Pro Runs Android TV, Supports Netflix HD

TV box manufacturers should move and more more from Android to Android TV operating systems, so we can expect cheaper TV boxes offering an Android TV experience. One of those device is Nexbox A95X Pro that sells for $37.99 on GeekBuying (pre-orders shipping in about 4 days), and also happens to support Netflix HD (720p). [Update: The promo on GeekBuying appears to be over, but it’s now available on GearBest for $36.99 with coupon GBA95X1] Nexbox A95X Pro TV box specifications: SoC – Amlogic S905W quad core Arm Cortex-A53 processor with Arm Mali-450MP GPU System Memory – 2GB DDR3 Storage – 16GB eMMC flash, micro SD card slot Video Output – HDMI up to 4K @ 30 Hz, AV port (composite) Video – 4K 30 fps H.265, 4K 30 fps VP9 Profile-2, MPEG1/2/4, H.264, HD AVC/VC1, RM/RMVB, Xvid/DivX3/4/5/6, RealVideo8/9/10 Audio Output – Via HDMI and AV ports, coaxial S/PDIF port Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n WiFi (2.4 GHz only) USB – 2x USB 2.0 ports Misc …

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CCC Air Stick 4K TV Stick Runs Android TV, Supports HDR10, aptX HD Bluetooth Audio (Japan)

It’s been a while since I have seen an Amlogic S912 TV stick, and so far none of them would run Android TV operating system. But CCC Air Stick 4K does, meaning it supports Google Cast like a ChromeCast, as well as Voice Commands through a remote control. The company also claims support for aptX and aptX HD Bluetooth audio, as well as online services such as Hulu, Netflix, Spotify, and some Japanese specific services, since the TV stick only targets the Japanese market. Air Stick 4K specifications: SoC – Amlogic S912J 64-bit octa core Arm Cortex A53 @ up to 1.5GHz with Arm Mali GPU System Memory – 2 GB Storage – 16 GB flash Video Output – HDMI 2.0a up to 4K @ 60 Hz with HDR10, CEC support Audio – HDMI audio output, aptX / aptX audio over Bluetooth Connectivity Dual band (2.4 GHz/5 GHz) 802.11b/g/n/ac WiFi Bluetooth 4.1 Ethernet via power adapter USB – 1x USB …

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Mecool KII Pro Set-Top-Box Upgraded to Amlogic S905D Processor, Android 7.1.2

VideoStrong is making some of the most popular – at least on this website – Android set-box boxes with digital TV tuner on the market with products like Mecool KIII Pro, or KI Pro, mostly because of their affordability. Software may be hit or miss depending on your local requirement (e.g. AC3 on DVB-T2, language encoding issues, etc..), so there’s fairly large number of users and some community tools or firmware such as DVB Channel Editor or Vitmos OS that may make them better devices. Most models are based on Amlogic S905 or S912, but Amlogic launched S905D processor some time ago with better tuner support (multiple demodulator support) which for example allowing me to watch terrestrial TV (DVB-T2) while recording satellite TV (DVB-S2) on Sen5 TV box. VideoStrong decided to upgrade their KII Pro Android set-top box  with S905 processor, DVB-T2/T/C and DVB-S2/S tuners to the new Amlogic S905D processor, and the new version of the device also get …

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