Looking for a smart TV box that is easy to use (simple remote)

Hello all,

My mother in law wants to watch a particular web based TV station but it doesn't work very well over their rather inept Samsung Smart TV. I think the TV's computer is simply not powerful enough to decode and play the H.264 stream (it constantly shows a refresh icon in the center of the video); it plays perfectly on a computer or iPhone.

The other problem with the Samsung Smart TV is that it is very "complicated" to wait about 2 minutes, press "smart hub", use the navigation buttons to find the Internet browser, then move the cursor to the bookmarked URL (that I set up), then finally navigate the web sight to start the TV streaming.

What I am looking for is a TV Box that I can pre-configure to minimize the effort required for my mother in law to watch her TV streaming.

Important features:
  • Minimalistic controller.
  • Decent built-in web browser with capable web video decoding.
  • Built-in WiFi.
  • USB memory stick interface.

One candidate is the Minix Neo U1 + A2 Lite Air Mouse.

Any other suggestions?

Thank you
LVL 4
S ConnellyTechnical WriterAsked:
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MereteCommented:
Either way your mother in-law will be confronted with technical choices how to start it if the station is not free to air.
 If she is elderly ?  how old?
and in hospital could be the internet provided there/ They are usually slow.
You didn't mention if she is at home and has her own internet.
Smart TV connects via an ethernet cable  or wireless, and is only as fast as the internet station she wants to watch.
If it has high traffic then the Q mark is buffering.
Her TV should already have USB slots but I dont see how that will help.
Minix Neo U1 + A2 Lite Air Mouse. media box adds more complexity for her. It seems to be using the Kodi.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TOyB6qCWeRU
Kodi is the newer version of the Raspberry pi XBMC  Media Center.
Kodi is a free and open-source media player software application developed by the XBMC Foundation.
Does she use a cable TV or a Web service of sorts like Netflix? Like something Pay per view?
If you fill in more details I'd have a better ideas.
Which country.
There are many media boxes from Android to .
What devices are compatible with Kodi?
Android TV devices, obscure PCs and even a Raspberry Pi
Introduction. Updated: With the release of the new Nvidia Shield one of our top picks for the best Kodi boxes has received a massive reduction in size. ...
Nvidia Shield. ...
Amazon Fire TV. ...
Cubox i2 (US-only) ...
CompuLab Utilite (US-only) ...
Gem Box. ...
Raspberry Pi 3. ...
Razer Forge TV.
LAST UPDATED: SATURDAY, APRIL 8, 2017
Kodi is a great media software that allows you to watch and stream offline and online content.
There are many all in one boxes to choose from. Let’s compare some of the best fully loaded Kodi / XBMC streaming media boxes. If you’re not comfortable making your own Kodi box, there are many options that allow you to buy an Android box loaded with Kodi already installed. Kodi can also easily be installed from the Google app store and then you can customize Kodi anyway you want. Consider upgrading to the latest version, depending on which version ships with the box.
http://www.overtheairdigitaltv.com/the-best-fully-loaded-kodi-xbmc-streaming-media-boxes/

Hope that helps, it's a bit broad but there is regulations for different countries as to what I can suggest.
Could you have a look and then fill in any details
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S ConnellyTechnical WriterAuthor Commented:
Thank you Merete for your assistance (again... you always seem to find my questions. LOL).

Sorry for the long wait for a reply.

>Either way your mother in-law will be confronted with technical choices how to start it if the station is not free to air.
Actually, that isn't an issue. It is a free streaming website. The problems are:
1) The website wasn't designed for Smart TV access because of the multitude of menus and selections. Like this one... allseego.com. It was designed for viewing from a desktop. That is why I am looking for a smart set-top box that comes with remote control that makes it easier to navigate a website from a TV screen.

For example... a remote control with a joystick, mouse pad, or an air mouse.

2) The very limited computer in the Samsung Smart TV cannot properly stream content from any of the TV streaming sites (like the one above). It is the TV, not the home WiFi connection. It plays perfectly from a mobile phone and a desktop computer (all using the same WiFi connection).

> If she is elderly ?  how old?
Age isn't really relevant. Like I stated above... it's really mostly about a remote control that is better equip to handle web browsing. :)

>You didn't mention if she is at home and has her own internet.
Home internet (via WiFi) but like I stated, the speed over WiFi is more than adequate.

>Minix Neo U1 + A2 Lite Air Mouse.
Thanks for the Youtube video link. I'll watch it this evening.

>Kodi
No... the only purpose of the box is to allow my mother in law to easily watch Web TV streaming or prepared videos on a USB stick (via a built in USB port).

Kodi is otherwise a really nice personal streaming platform but it requires a home computer that runs the Kodi software. That would not be useful in this situation.

To reiterate, the primary motivation is a box that can easily navigate and play videos from sites like allseego.com (it's a Korean TV streaming website). That means the remote control must have better controls than an up/down, left and right buttons.

Thanks again. :)
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MereteCommented:
Hi sconnel, there are legalities/protocols involved when accessing web sites that stream TV. Or any form of video music that may have copyrights. So only specific devices can be used.
If a specific web page is not designed for smart TV then implies those standards.
I cant read the language on the linked webpage but it can be shared on FB Twitter Google+ so only a PC is required.
There could also be limitations on which country.
Some countries have access denied when trying to watch outside of their region.
Why not consider a larger screen hooked up to a PC? Be it even a flat screen TV. I have flat screen TV connected to a PC here. Flat screen digital TV are cheaper than monitors it acts as a monitor for the PC. This way your mother-inlaw has a much larger screen with a PC.

The remote your talking about sounds like a game controller for Steam or Xbox etc. because TV does not require that exact action like in games the TV remote is usually just with the normal selections as you described.
However with Xbox for example, you’ll find the best apps, TV, movies, music and sports all in one place. And with Xbox One, switch quickly from one to another, , talk with family and friends on Skype while watching TV. It’s all the entertainment  All in one place.< that's a quote but the Xbox does have the remote control you asked for because the Xbox includes games.
http://www.xbox.com/en-AU/entertainment?xr=shellnav
http://www.xbox.com/en-AU

>Kodi
No... the only purpose of the box is to allow my mother in law to easily watch Web TV streaming or prepared videos on a USB stick (via a built in USB port).<< your smart should have a USB port.
"Smart TVs" often have at least one USB port that let you plug in a hard drive, flash drive, or other USB storage device to view media files on your television.
Boxes for streaming or Hubs/or media boxes you would need a screen or TV monitor, to my knowledge there is no such remote control for these. They do have the standard remote control
https://www.amazon.com/NVIDIA-SHIELD/dp/B00U33Q940?tag=bom_tomsguide-20&ascsubtag=site:tgus|tid:1493079281798
Best Streaming Devices 2017
http://www.tomsguide.com/us/best-streaming-players,review-2140.html
The game adapter would be struck off as I don't know of one that is used outside of games. ie for TV outside of Xbox.
There is a vast avenue for this type of entertainment but I dont know the circumstances of your mother-inlaw what she is capable of how or technical experiences are with these newer internet of things.
My dad was always lost with wireless and no VCR, he just loved the old wired remote control.
Your thoughts on what else I can offer,
Regards Merete
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Jackie ManIT ManagerCommented:
Have you tried any miracast device?

Just install a miracast device using HDMI port of the TV and supply power to the miracast device via standard micro USB charger.

Then, do a screen mirroring to the miracast device from an Android smartphone.

Finally, In the browser of the mobile phone, go to the link below to navigate within allseego.com.

http://www.allseego.com/index.php?mid=home&m=1
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Jackie ManIT ManagerCommented:
Any update?
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S ConnellyTechnical WriterAuthor Commented:
Hello all,

Sorry for the delay. I've been travelling again with little time to get back on this project.

Jackie Man, thanks for your suggestions. Miracast wouldn't help for an older person. That would be far too complex.

I ended up purchasing a GooBang Doo MXQ Pro Android 6.0 TV Box for around $60. It comes with an air mouse controller (which should be good enough for web browsing) but for less than $20 more dollars, I also ordered a Ybee Mini 2.4Ghz Portable Wireless Keyboard Touchpad air mouse. I have already received assurance that web browsing and video web streaming works acceptably well with this box.

I will update this thread after I receive and test it (I should get it this Friday).

Thanks again.
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S ConnellyTechnical WriterAuthor Commented:
Hello all,

>I ended up purchasing a GooBang Doo MXQ Pro Android 6.0 TV Box for around $60.

Well, you get what you pay for?

Although it appears to play the web streaming videos without the problems the Samsung Smart TV had, the unit is virtually useless for anything else. It seems vastly underpowered as it stutters occasionally when playing videos through my Synology server and many Android TV apps seem to become unresponsive so often, they are quite impractical to use.

So, for my inlaws, I think the unit is acceptable because it supports web video streaming... that was the primary objective.

But for me... I need an Android TV box with a lot more CPU power. I guess I will keep searching.
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S ConnellyTechnical WriterAuthor Commented:
Hi Merete,

Sorry, I didn't mean to ignore you. Thanks for your assistance.


Hi sconnel, there are legalities/protocols involved when accessing web sites that stream TV. Or any form of video music that may have copyrights. So only specific devices can be used.
If a specific web page is not designed for smart TV then implies those standards.

Not applicable in this situation. There are no restrictions like that.



Why not consider a larger screen hooked up to a PC? Be it even a flat screen TV. I have flat screen TV connected to a PC here. Flat screen digital TV are cheaper than monitors it acts as a monitor for the PC. This way your mother-inlaw has a much larger screen with a PC.

Thanks but that is way too overly complicated for them. They want to sit in the comfort of their living room to watch their Korean programs. :)

Like I already stated, I found a $60 Android TV box that makes viewing a lot easier for them. :)


All in one place.< that's a quote but the Xbox does have the remote control you asked for because the Xbox includes games.
http://www.xbox.com/en-AU/entertainment?xr=shellnav
http://www.xbox.com/en-AU

Actually, I have since found many inexpensive air mouse remotes that work with most or all Android TV boxes.

Thanks for your links. Since I'd love to get my own Android TV box, I will review the information provided in your links.

Best regards,
Shawn
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MereteCommented:
Thanks for the update Shawn appreciate it. Daunting task I agree. Looks like you are getting there and happy with what you found.
Regards Merete
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S ConnellyTechnical WriterAuthor Commented:
I've decided to ship back the GooBang Doo MXQ Pro Android 6.0 TV Box because every time I use this device, it seems inevitable that within an hour of use, it will become temporarily unresponsive and apps will force close. It appears that it is not only underpowered but also unstable.

Since I now understand that most or all Android TV boxes can be customised with 3rd party controllers (i.e. air mouse), I am looking for recommendations for an Android TV box that has a bit more power than the GooBang.

Thanks
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MereteCommented:
GooBang does sound a bit gooie with a bang
Cant really recommend as I am in Australia, also depends on what streaming services you want to use.

Read user feedbacks and ratings.
Have a little read  from Android PC Review.
What's covered
Won’t any device work?
What should I look for?
Best Android TV Box
Runner Up:
More:
http://androidpcreview.com/best-android-tv-box/2309/
Good Luck :)
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S ConnellyTechnical WriterAuthor Commented:
Cant really recommend as I am in Australia, also depends on what streaming services you want to use.

Actually, it doesn't really matter where you live. The problems with the GooBang Doo MXQ Pro would be pretty universal. For example, even the normally solid NetFlix app would temporarily freeze up during playback (or even as the app loaded) or the Google Play store would go into a Force Stop condition.

What puzzles me is that this device received so many positive reviews on Amazon but the fewer negative ones did accurately describe many of the problems that I also experienced. Perhaps, I received a bad unit? Nevertheless, Amazon's excellent return policy allowed me to return it without trouble. :)

The next unit that I've ordered is the Leelbox M9S Pro Android tv box. About double the cost... let's see how this one performs. But if this one doesn't perform well, the next step up in price takes me within the range of the cost of a NVIDIA Shield. Once I get to that cost, I might as well just purchase that name brand product.

Thanks for your link. Unfortunately, it is out of date. :) What I need to look at are the units supporting Marshmellow. But your link does confirm that the two top contenders are still the NVIDEA and the MINIX... or specifically now it's the NEO U9-H. As I mentioned above, the Minix is the next one up from the one I just ordered, Leelbox M9S Pro. The issue with the Minix is that it's nearly the price of the NVIDEA... so I might as well spend a few extra dollars and buy the NVIDEA... if the Leelbox fails me. LOL

Who knew this would be so complex and fraught with failure?

Best regards,
Shawn
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MereteCommented:
Cant proceed without Shawn's contributions. I feel there is many suggestions but no solution here. Thanks
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S ConnellyTechnical WriterAuthor Commented:
Hello all,

Sorry for being so neglectful in regards to this question.

I asked for it to be re-opened in order to share my experience in finding a decent and inexpensive Android TV box.

As I mentioned earlier, I tried a few very inexpensive boxes, like the GooBang Doo MXQ Pro and found that they were very under-powered and suffered from long pauses and frequent Android app Forced closes (app crash).

I stopped looking when I tried the Leelbox M9S Pro (Android 6.0 TV Box 64Bit S912 Octa-core CPU 2GB Ram+16GB Rom). It does everything that I needed from my original specifications.

For navigation, I purchased a $20 air mouse. I think there will be a slight learning curve for my in-laws but it really works well when navigating a web page. FYI, I purchased the Febite MX3 2.4G Mini Wireless Keyboard Mouse.

Incidentally, I ended purchasing the best of the best Android boxes for myself, the Nvidia Shield TV as a result of an unbelievable Amazon Prime Day sale ($65 off!). LOL
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S ConnellyTechnical WriterAuthor Commented:
Thanks again for everyone's assistance.
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