Help a newbie out - resources for choosing a TV box


epk
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Hello Armbian'ers,

 

I'm a veteran Debian user and occasional system administrator, but - have zero experience with TV set-top boxes / media streamers. I now find myself in a position of needing one: In a rental apartment, I have a wall-mounted TV with HDMI in but an old, custom, non-upgradable vendor-specific OS and no network connectivity.

 

To be honest - I don't particularly need my box to be ARM-based, nor do I need my OS distribution to be Debian. I mean, that would be the nicest, since my desktop is Devuan Chimaera (~= Debian 11), but I would definitely settle on any reasonable Linux distro.

 

Anyway, my questions:

 

1. How can I educate myself about my different options? Manufacturers (I don't mind ones which are relatively unknown in the west), key features which might not be obvious to a PC user, buyers' guides etc.?

2. If I get some specific recommendation of a TV box - how do I evaluate it (reviews, fine-print, benchmarks, compatibility lists etc.)?

 

I'm not asking you guys to write up an encyclopedia for me as an answer to this question, but rather for a few pointers and directions to follow, to resources off- and maybe on this site.

 

PS - I've read this and it seems quite discouraging regarding boxes with Armbian support - either it's essentially discontinued (AmLogic) or there's missing info :-( 

 

 

Edited by epk
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7 hours ago, epk said:

I'm a veteran Debian user and occasional system administrator

Considering this a TVbox might not the best choice for you since there would be lots of frustration.

If you want an ARM board with well supported SoC I'd recommend something with RK3399 onboard. Yeah it is slightly older and there is a new generation of Rockchips now but remember that development for ARM is still rather slow and it takes several years to get a chip almost fully functional.

The Station P1 (which in a nutshell is a T-Firefly RK3399 ROC-PC PLUS board in a fancy case) is working quite well in the meantime and @balbes150 is actively supporting it. Yes, it is also a bit more expensive but you get is what you pay for.

Having Debian on it you can use it as PC and installing Kodi will give you TVbox "feeling".

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What Werner said. Also NanoPi M4V2, RockPi4, NanoPC T4, ... are good choices. The Odroid N2+ has a great CPU but not yet the great software as with rk3399, but coming closer.
If Linux is what you want, then a tv box is not the correct choice. TV-boxes are not offiially supported by Armbian. Producers make them with different components for the same model. So it is a game of chance to have it al working.

I make review videos on youtube about single board computers.
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpv7NFr0-9AB5xoklh3Snhg/videos

 

Here more reviews and info.
https://forum.armbian.com/forum/40-reviews-tutorials-hardware-hacks/

Good luck.

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