Hi guys, I saw many people around asking how to watch on their Android boxes different type of content and rather than trying to answer different posts, I decided to try to share my experience and knowledge, as I was also digging in this area in the past couple of (already many) years. I am neither an AV expert, nor an IP expert guy, but I learned many things, having a technical background. This post may be quite long, it’s not meant though to become a book…so take your time to go through it, it may help you at least to get a high level understanding. So let’s get started with some high level information about the Internet access. 1. Internet access Well, this is the 1st thing that everybody is aware of: I need an internet subscription to reach out the world. There are several type of ISP infrastructure reaching you at home, mainly fixed and mobile, described below. Fixed access: - GPON + xDSL access on the last mile (the distance between the ISP xDSL equipment and your home xDSL router): some of you may have heard about this technology, already aging, but still in place from many operators/ISPs around the world. You get from your ISP a dedicated xDSL modem/router, or you buy a compatible one. When it comes to the internet speed, in case you are on an ADSL 2/2+ technology, this may be up to ~24 Mbps downstream theoretically, practically you may be able to reach 10- 18 Mbps, depending on several factors (ISP copper line infrastructure quality, number of concurrent connected subscribers in the same DSLAM, their traffic type, potential deep packet inspection policies on the ISP side etc). In case of VDSL 2 lines, your downstream speed may be up to 200 Mbps theoretically, practically it can go up to ~140-170 Mbps downstream, again, depending on a number of factors described before. - FTTH (Fiber to the home) access: your ISP may have FO (fiber optic) down to your door, case where they will install an optical to Ethernet converter towards your router. Downstream speed can be up to 1Gbps theoretically, practically you may be able to see ~800+ Mbps. The speed is also dependent on the protocols used, mainly PPPoE or DHCP. Mobile access: - this is also possible, either by attaching to your router a 3G/LTE USB dongle, if the router is supporting this option, or you attach it to one of your devices and make that device as an access point. This option should be used mainly as a backup solution, in case your fixed access line is down or you are in an area where fixed access is not (yet) covered by any ISP. You should remember though that most of the mobile operators are capping your traffic to some amount of traffic in your main mobile subscription, any additional byte will add more costs on your side. Internet speed is again dependent on the used mobile technology (3G/WCDMA or 4G/LTE). Important note: - always remember that, whatever is the internet bandwidth mentioned in your contract, irrespective of access technology, that speed is not guaranteed, your service from the ISP is best effort. Unless you sign with the ISP a contract where there is a guaranteed downstream speed, but your monthly fee may be couple of times higher than best effort contracts. To what I am aware of, at least within EU and US, there is no legislation yet forcing the ISPs to secure/guarantee the downstream speed. There is though a minimum guaranteed downstream speed, usually reflected in the contract. Upstream speed is usually mentioned in the contract, but still best effort. For all the above reasons, several speed tests at different time of the day will give you different speed results. 2. Live TV and OTT VoD content Once I covered a bit how are we getting connected to the internet, I’m landing in the subject of this thread and I notice that it’s becoming already quite long…ughh… Before moving to some more info, remember that, from accessing online streams point of view, I'd say an aprox 2-3 Mbps constant bit rate should be more than enough for SD streams and 6-8 Mbps constant bit rate for HD streams. Same is valid also for OTT VoD content, described in the next chapter. So, what’s in for us? Everybody heard about OTT (Over the top) content, the internet is flooded with it on one side, while the smart devices vendors are trying to give us the means to consume it. Let’s have a look. 2.1 Live TV Well, there are several ways to spend (or better kill, depending on the mood) our time watching Live TV. Where does it come into the picture my Android box? Let’s see below couple of cases. DVB-S In case you have a satellite STB Enigma 2 based, you can set-up a corresponding VU+/Enigma Kodi add-on, so that you can watch free TV channels on a 2nd TV screen via your Minix. Just bear in mind that this will most likely not work for a DVB-S STB that you get from your ISP/CATV provider, as their content is usually encrypted and the STB HDMI and SCART outputs have HDCP and Macrovision protection mechanisms. You can find how to set up Kodi VU+/Enigma add-on by searching a bit the internet. DVB-C If you live in US, you may check this solution here: http://kodi.tv/addon-spotlight-hdhomerun-live-tv/ and here https://www.silicondust.com/hdhomerun/, which is for un-encrypted TV channels. A similar alternative may be a slingbox, have a look here: http://www.slingbox.com/en-GB, solution which is assuming that you will re-stream the channels from an existing DVB-C subscription (or from a DVB-T or DVB-Sbox, I guess) ISP/CATV provider has an Android app or a Kodi add-on In case you have a TV subscription from an ISP/CATV operator, your operator may have an OTT Android application, which allows you to watch some or all of their TV channels. In this case, you don't need Kodi, but their app. Don't expect to have HD quality or same TV channels zapping time, Android apps are built to address mainly smart mobile devices over a mobile or WiFi access infrastructure. If you live in US, you may try to check the US TV Kodi add-on. There may be some European CATV providers which may have a Kodi add-on, but I'm not aware yet of such alternative. Online Live TV content There are several Kodi add-ons which can be used for live TV channels, or Android apps, like Mobdro, Livestream or FilmOn, just to mention few of them. Remember though that the TV streams are not coming from the TV content providers, but form private people re-streaming (and many times re-encoding) the TV channels. So, both the apps/add-ons and the TV channel links can be available for couple of days/weeks/months (TV channels) or couple of months (add-ons). You don't have to expect to have same TV experience, either from TV channels quality perspective (best case up to SD), or from TV channels zapping time one. There are couple of Kodi add-ons for this purpose, the ones I know and use are bbts, iptv stalker or vdubt25. Further reading here: https://seo-michael.co.uk/ for tons of Kodi tutorials. Important notes: - It may be that your ISP/CATV may have also a webTV client, but remember that this will or may not work under an Android OS, as their webTV apps (may) require an encryption client to be installed; to what I am aware off, only Windows environment is implemented in major/global ISP/CATV companies, though Android WebTV clients are also available from the CA/DRM system vendors - If your box is rooted, official ISP/CATV apps may not work, as their applications are checking for the root access and, if it’s find, the channels will be blocked (black screen, with or without sound). The reason is that they don’t want you to copy their content, which can be done if you have root access. - Most of the apps are built to detect only the WiFi or mobile access. You can trick the apps to use also your Ethernet, but you need to root your box; further info here on how to do it: http://minixforum.com/threads/fake-wifi-how-to-trick-apps-asking-for-wifi.4361/ . The coming new FW release may contain already this trick, so no need to root your box. I didn’t mentioned on purpose the ISP/CATV real IPTV solutions, as they don’t give any chance to interact with our (Minix) Android boxes. You have a dedicated IPTV STB that you get/buy from your ISP/CATV provider and you can use only that one. Their content is always encrypted and, if they give you the possibility to record their content (thus an STB with an internal/external HDD), you will never be able to move it or copy it on another device. There are also already available smart TV sets with Android TV OS, like Sony. I’m not detailing this more, you can find more info on the Internet, but you can use them as any other Android device also, thus you can install apps like the ones mentioned above. 2.2 OTT VoD content Omg, this post is becoming quite huge… This is the last part of my already big post. Here we talk about how do we get on the screen either my multimedia library (movies/pictures/audio files), or the online ones. Well, to me at least, the best media player that cover this part is Kodi (kodi.tv). For couple of good years already, these guys are doing a tremendous work to give us the best free media center, which is available now In Google Play also. There are some other flavors/spin-offs available, like SPMC, Minix XBMC or TVMC, my experience till now is based mainly on Minix XBMC and Kodi. There are also other media center applications, but I leave them for you to comment. Your own media You can set-up Kodi more or less easy, depending on your techie skills, to watch your media database, either this being on an external Stick/HDD/NAS, or your device memory. If you have more smart devices with XBMC/Kodi insatlled in each of them + a NAS, you can also share a common database, more info here: http://kodi.wiki/view/MySQL Online movies There are several official paid apps, like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant Video etc, which most of you are already aware of. The next couple of thoughts are Kodi related. Like mentioned above, even if this is not in the scope of Kodi, they gave the tools to the devs out there to develop additional add-ons. There are plenty of them covering this scope, most known being Genesis, Navi-X, IceFilms or Phoenix. Further reading here: https://seo-michael.co.uk/ , or www.tvaddons.ag for tons of Kodi tutorials. Important notes: - A knife has always two sides. If your content is not playing well, have in mind that on one hand there has to be the support on the media player codec and firmware side, but also you have to understand that, if the media player codecs & firmware support is correct, the fault may be on the content side also. Most of the online content/movies may have been (re)encoded with different free or un-professional tools, which will always lead to many errors inside the video file structure, thus affecting their playback. I have seen many threads with complains about wrong/faulty playback of different video files in different video formats and containers, but nobody or extremely few people acknowledged that the fault may be on the video file side also. The video file structures can be analyzed with professional tools. - Yor ISP may block different traffic type, so you may need to use a SmartDNS and/or a VPN service to get access to such content outside their network. This is a clear indication that they have deep packet inspection mechanisms to check your traffic, mainly from the regulatory and/or legal perspective, as these online movies are mainly illegal. You may find some additional info here: http://www.tvaddons.ag/streaming-torrents-legal/ Finally, I came to the end. It took me some time to build it, but I wanted to share with you guys. Feel free to react/comment/debate/argue, we are here to share our experience, so that we can learn new things. Best of luck to all of you and enjoy your smart toys! Cheers Adi ________________________________________________________________________________________ EDIT: I am revising my log post by adding some definitions for the used acronyms, so it’s becoming even longer…J. I hope I will not end up in using more acronyms in the ones I’m trying to explain, I will try to add also links to other detailed info, mainly Wikipedia, which is quite a good start if one would really want to dig more. Thanks @Pauleduc for your feedback! Glossary of terms: ISP: Internet Service Provider, a company providing internet access services for business or personal usage CATV: Cable Television (or Community Access/Antenna Television) it refers mainly to an operator distributing television paid TV services over a coaxial or fiber optic infrastructure. Some CATV operators were distributing also internet access services over coax cables down to the end user. More details here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cable_television GPON: Gigabit-capable Passive Optical Networks, a Fiber Optic infrastructure of a telecom provider that implements a point-to-multipoint architecture to reach out end users. More details here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passive_optical_network xDSL: Digital Subscriber Line, which could be Asymmetric (thus ADSL), Very-high-bit-rate Digital Subscriber Line (thus VDSL), or few others, but these two are the main ones used by the telecom operators. It’s a broadband access technology of a telecom operator, usually over a copper line infrastructure on the last mile (from an outdoor/indoor cabinet to the end user home). More details here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_subscriber_line#DSL_technologies DSLAM: Digital Subscriber Line access Multiplexer, which is network access equipment installed in the telecom operator network, closer to the subscriber, usually in a central office or outdoor cabinets. From there you get, over the copper line infrastructure, the broadband access on the last mile towards the xDSL modem (or residential gateway) in your house. More details here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_subscriber_line_access_multiplexer PPPoE: Point-to-Point Protocol over Ethernet, basically it’s a standardized network protocol that is encapsulating PPP packet frames inside an Ethernet frame, including authentication, encryption and compresiion. It’s mainly used in connection with xDSL broadband access technologies. More details here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Point-to-point_protocol_over_Ethernet DHCP: Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol is also a standardized network protocol used to dynamically allocate network configuration parameters. More details here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynamic_Host_Configuration_Protocol FTTx: Fiber To The X, a generic term for a broadband architecture deployed by a telecom operator over fiber optic. Usually It could be found as FTTP/FTTH/FTTB (fiber all the way to the premises/home/building). More details here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiber_to_the_x DVB-x: Digital Video Broadcast over x (DVB-T: terrestrial, DVB-S: satellite, DVB-C: cable). Standard used by operators or content providers to deliver TV services. More details here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Video_Broadcasting VoD: Video On Demand is usually a paid unicast service distributed by an operator, allowing users to watch or listen to video or audio content when they choose so. This service does not refer to live TV channels. It’s a service usually distributed over an IP broadband infrastructure, not necessarily by a telecom operator. A classic example is Netflix. More details here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Video_on_demand OTT: Over the Top content represents the delivery of a 3rd party content (video, audio or other type of media) over a broadband infrastructure, with or without the involvement of a telecomm operator in the control or distribution of the content. If the telecom operator is not the one providing the OTT service, but a 3rd party, in this case the telecom part is used just as a “bit-pipe”. Again, Netflix or Amazon Instant Video would be good examples.