Some feedback on the Vero 4K, which I bought last week and installed yesterday:
I used an Amazon Fire TV 1 in the living room connected to my Synology NAS. Everything was running smooth. But there were a couple of things that of course didn’t work.
a) Refresh Rate Changer
b) Proper Passthru
c) Kodi 17.x had some cosmetic issues on the AFTV 1
d) Annoying to start Kodi manually from the Launcher
So I was looking for simple drop in replacement as I didn’t watch to spent too much time setting it up and switch the boxes easily.
Setup was pretty smooth but there was an issue with the identifying my MySQL setup. Also setup addon is quite laggy. Probably because it runs some scripts that wait for results. Not very responsive, but does the job. The circle though for selecting the options is not a good UI choice. But well, it is not like will be often there.
The setup didn’t find the existing tables because naturally they are called MyVideos99 and MyMusic56 by default (note the version suffix). So I added the version number and the setup continued as tables could be located.
Kodi wants the table names without the version suffix, but the setup looks if they actually exist by the exact name. You might want to fix this in a future update.
Naturally Kodi didn’t use the tables. It would look for MyVideos9999 (adding the version number again to the name of the table), As it didn’t find the table it created an empty MyVideos99107 for me. So I just removed the table names from the advancedconfig.xml and restart the device and also dropped the table that was created earlier.
And see and behold Kodi properly found the database and upgraded it. It should have been like this right away.
Minor annoyance, and should be fixed in a future update.
Afterwards ran the update for the system without any hickups. Though for new users it might be a bit confusing when updating the repositories that show as an updates and then reports no update can be found. For new users it would look like not all updates were downloaded and installed. Just a cosmetic thing though.
Well, went on installing my preferred skin, adding the addons I use, going over all configuration options and move some files over (e.g. custom library paths, playlists and so on).
For SSH no UTF8 support was auto installed. Well no biggie again, people who can use the command line should be able to fix that easily anyway.
Strangely the DPMS option showed up, even though to my understanding that is not supported by the Vero. Could be a Kodi thing though, not sure.
I had some stuttering in playback. Found out that the buffering settings were renamed in Kodi 17 and adjusted them. Still had issues and had to switch my 5GHz WLAN channel. The ATV1 never had issues with the “normal” 2.4GHZ WLAN for which I have a stronger signal in the living room. Well, no biggie, just my setup for which I cannot easily run a cable.
I played with setting up an fstab, but there is no real difference in performance on network access at all for me - in fact it stutters way more on the 2.4GHz channel and I get an annoying long shutdown as it tries to unmount the shares (need to find out how to prevent this in case I need to restart the unit). Well general Linux thing. Probably removing the recommended fstab approach I found here on the forums as - for me - it doesn’t bring anything to the table beside one more annoyance.
So everything was working nice. Paring of another BlueTooth and CEC also worked.
But there ARE some issues with CEC. First the Vero never turns off. I know it is an “always on” device. But it should mimmick a standby like the ATV1. That means turning off that way too bright LED and disabling the video output like it would be off. That would go a long way in usability (or switch to the red LED in that case when it is in fake standby). In any case a less bright LED should be used in future hardware revisions. It is really annoyingly bright.
CEC is quite an issue overall when the unit it is always on. For example I setup a screen saver and it forced my TV to switch Kodi instead of staying on the TV. Also when turning on my TV/receiver sometimes the receiver stays the wrong input. Well, I need to play with the setup here a bit and see what can be done about it. The ATV1 with the limited CEC never had these issues. Might need to turn CEC completely off in the end.
Pro on CEC is that the remote of my TV worked out of the box, but disabled the RF remove that came with it until I remove the dongle and re-inserted it. The ATV1 remote also paired - though the process was a bit strange as it only showed up after I left the setup for bluetooth and returned to it again right away (like the right pane was not updated). Also showed it by the BT address and not by name (could be standard with that remote though)
Anyway, I plan to use the RF remove as it feels better in hand with the bigger buttons personally.
The bright LED that cannot be turned off is quite annoying. Also I do not see the reason for making it red when the unit is shutdown. In that case it should be completely off as the device cannot be woken up anyway (red LED would mean standby, but no way you can wake it up beside pulling the plug). That design error should fixed in the next Vero version. Well, I put it behind the TV and put tape over the LED.
One issue remains, sometimes it looks like Kodi ended and there is just a black screen when I return to the TV after it was shutdown. Need to investigate with the logs why and OSMC and didn’t restart automatically by the watchdog.
The later would bring up another CEC issues as even though disabled in Kodi it turns the TV on - but input is not switched to Kodi. Yeah, I probably disable all the CEC stuff. Not worth the hassle.
So all in all I am very very happy. Easy replacement, all features I want work out of the box. Perfect passthru, refresh rate changer, latest Kodi working properly and getting the benefit of ongoing support - that goes a LONG way for ease of use.
Only issues are on the software side:
- MySQL setup procedure if you have an existing DB setup
- CEC annoyances (well, probably Kodi to blame here mostly)
- Setting up additional BT remote was a bit odd
- No Fake Standby, for which you could leverage the CEC settings.
- Annoying bright blue LED that is always on
I can highly recommend the unit for those looking for new Kodi box with good support and a high WAF. Would buy it any time again and for future updates or additional boxes I will look directly as OSMC without any doubt.
The minor software issues can for sure be addressed in future updates and probably will.