Hi all. Seeing as my shelved A10-based TV box will probably be of little use due to the low specs, I'm wondering if getting a TV box or SBC with a Rockchip SoC (specifically, the RK3399) would make sense now that mainline support is landing, and the recent announcement of new SoCs should be a signal for incoming sales of current/old stock.
- How usable are the boards now/ what's missing (compared to, say, an x86 PC with well-suported hardware components)? (Rockchip's status matrix hasn't beed updated in 8 months... Is anyone tracking the mainline development of Rockchip as well as the sunxi community is tracking theirs?)
- Does any tick all "boxes" listed below? If so, which would you recommend?
My expected use of the box/SBC:
• used as a TV box - controllable using a remote (if not shipped with a decent one, then preferably usable with generic IR (nec encoding), and audio through HDMI
• Playing movies stored on NAS (SMB v2+, Wired Ethernet, preferably gigabit)
- "typical" H264 (up to 1080p BD quality; alternatively 1080p60 from youtube and the like) ~50%
- mpeg4 (xvid,divx) ~10%
- "Hi10P H264" ~35%
- various sw-decodable SD-or-lower content (flv) ~5%
- H265 - Don't see myself caring about, and (knowingly) getting H265 and/or 4K content any time soon. Unknowingly (through services forcing H265) - I'm currently not subscribed to anything, but am considering Nebula and Curiosity Stream; can't see anyone dropping H264 altogether, not even Youtube. About the only forced-H265 source I can possibly see considering is DVB-T2, (probably streamed into the network from another box), where the resolution will most likely never go beyond 1080i. If the chip can sw-decode such H265 stream, possibly while overclocked, that's good enough.
• Anime, and most movies in non-native language -> (rich) subtitles, and lots of 'em. I think this places additional requirements on the quality/capability of the DRM driver, as it isn't just scaling+scanning out a single plane with the video, but also combining the video plane (may not match display resolution) with display-resolution OSD/subtitle plane at all times. Ie. if the system starts stuttering the playing video when showing OSD, it's no good - just playing the video smoothly with nothing else showing isn't good enough (there's probably a workaround, where the subtitles are rendered into the video plane, but that limits their resolution and on-screen position, so.. "No, thanks.")
• Plex client (server should be capable of transcoding to h264 if needed).
• (maybe) hosting Kodi DB for all home Kodi clients - a non-roaming, passively-cooled TV box is IMHO best suited for the task. Weeks-long uptimes and low tolerance for kernel glitches affecting the DB operation (networking, storage) expected. Probably needs 4 GB of RAM?
• (maybe) WiFi AP (assuming the driver supports it) - the other AP at home doesn't quite reach one room, having an extra AP for better coverage would be nice.
• Case (for SBC): sufficient cooling required - mustn't overheat/throttle under sustained load (à la Raspberry Pi). Shouldn't need to disassemble the case to access sd-card, if the SBC has on-board IR the case mustn't block it (duh).
I took a look at a few SBCs:
- Rock Pi 4: I don't understand the point of putting RK3399 in a Raspberry form factor. RK3399 needs a beefy heatsink, and cools on the bottom, so it's not like I can use any Raspberry cases anyway, I think. Lots of USB ports are nice. No mention of infrared. Can buy some of the models locally for an OK price. Not a fan of having connectors on multiple/adjacent sides, with even the minimal setup (power, Ethernet, HDMI) having cables sticking out of 2 of them.
- RockPro64 Can't seem to find a decent case for it. Doesn't come with infrared.
- Rock960: Has a nice metal case, a bit bare-bones but probably sufficient aside from the missing IR.