Review: Zappiti Duo 4K HDR
The new generation of Zappiti players (Mini, One, Duo) are all using the RTD1295 which is Realtek's latest SoC. This is a quadcore ARM (A53) 64Bit SoC @1.4Ghz and 2GB of RAM and runs on Android 6.0.1.
In addition, the new generation comes with HDMI 2.0a and support for BT.2020 alongside HDR. At this moment it includes only HDR10. Support for Dolby Vision still needs to be determined.
The package and what’s inside:
Back (identical with front):
On the right side:
The case of the Zappiti Duo 4K HDR has proper HiFi dimensions so that it fits perfectly next to an AVR or Blu-ray player. The entire case is made from metal and feels very solid. The silver feet not only further highlight the HiFi visuals of the player but also eliminate vibrations from hard drives. The case is passively cooled so that there are no distracting noises from a fan. There is plenty of room for storage:
The case offers two hot swappable HDD cages on the front which fit 3.5” drives up to 8TB. The quality of those cages is excellent. In addition, there are also plenty USB ports. Especially handy are the two ports in the front of the device which can be accessed very easily. The Zappiti logo on the front of the device is illuminated with a blue LED and lights up when device is powered up. It can be disabled via the remote control so that there is no distracting light when the unit is placed near the TV. In case the Zappiti Dui 4K HDR is too big for you there are smaller devices which offer the same feature set such as the Zappiti Solo 4K HDR (one HDD) or the Mini 4K HDR (no HDD).
The remote control offers decent quality and fits well in the hand. Very positive is the fact that the remote is backlit for several seconds when a key is pressed. The pressure point of the remote is very deep so that the key press is only recognized when the key is completely pressed into the remote. For very fast access to the most important aspects of the player Zappiti placed buttons for the jukebox and the file browser directly on it. This is even more useful when taking into the account the multitasking abilities of the player: You can switch very fast between those apps because they are running in the background. The response of the player to inputs from the remote is a little bit slow. This can best be noticed while scrolling in the explorer. When pressing the up or down key for several seconds in order to scroll through a big folder the unit is still scrolling after releasing the key. Batteries for the remote control (2xAA) are not included and have to be obtained separately.
The Graphical User Interface (GUI):
The GUI is based on Android but Zappiti changed some aspects heavily in order to make it more usable on a big TV screen. When the device boots up you are in the main screen where the most important functions (jukebox, explorer, apps) are easily accessible.
The same holds true for apps since you can pin them at the bottom of the home screen. The GUI runs natively in 1080p which is in contrast to previous models where the resolution was limited to 720p. This is especially noticeable when using the jukebox because the cover and wallpaper look much sharper. The whole GUI looks modern and is very easy and intuitive to use. This makes it perfect for all ages and people who have difficulties using the latest technology.
Overview of installed apps:
The Zappiti Explorer:
Usually the explorer represents a very important feature of a media player because it is the place where you navigate to the video you want to play. That said, the Zappiti Media Center is so good that most users won’t use the explorer much, if at all.
Nevertheless, the explorer will be briefly discussed here.
The first menu of the explorer shows all devices which are in the same SMB network as well as external and internal storage devices:
What is most apparent about the explroer is the fact that it offers a great overview with 20 elements being displayed at once:
Via explorer it is possible to do the most important tasks like copy, cut, delete or rename straight on the device itself without using a computer:
Settings for playback of videos and music such as chained playback are accessible in the explorer:
The navigation with explorer is very fast (loading contennts of folders) and due to the big number of displayed items it is very easy to see contents of a folder without scrolling. The only negative point is the lag between a button press on the remote and the device executing that command. Like the main menu the explorer shows a clean and modern appearance.
Zappiti Media Center:
Die new generation of Zappiti 4K HDR players come with the latest version of the Zappiti Media Center (V4), which indexes your videos such as movies and TV shows. The user has several options to run the software which does the indexing. The most convenient being to let it run on the server where your videos are stored. At the moment the software is available for Synology, Asustor and the Zappiti NAS. In addition, it is possible to install the software on a Windows PC or a Mac.
The last option is to let the player index itself and then export the jukebox to the cloud. Although the internet connection for testing was a moderate 14mbit, covers and wallpapers always loaded relatively fast. There is also an option to make the jukebox available offline so that it is saved locally.
It is possible to setup the player so that it boots up directly into the media center. A very useful function is to play trailers of your indexed movies.
It take some seconds to start the Zappiti Media Center:
The loading screen of the jukebox shows some useful tips:
Main screen of the jukebox which shows all important functions:
„Alles“ (all) filters movies and TV shows alphabetically:
Overview of categories:
Overview of movies. It is possible to choose between several different views:
Overview of TV shows has the same layout as the movies section:
Overview of Season:
Episodes are automatically indexed as seen (green arrow):
In case you skip an unwatched episode and play the subsequent one the jukebox asks you afterwards if you want to mark the previous episodes as seen:
An orange arrow shows that the collection or season has been partially watched:
Scanning of the jukebox in the background. While scanning the jukebox is already usable:
Menu of the jukebox. It is possible to edit movies or TV shows which the jukebox couldn't identify:
In case a movie or TV show has been wrongly identified it is possible to edit it:
In addition, you can edit cover and wallpaper of movies and TV shows:
In case a movie has several parts Zappiti automatically creates a collection (saga) for it where all parts are merged. Instead of having four entries for every Die Hard movie there is just one entry where all parts are included.
Filtering by "seen" or "unseen":
Adding of movies or TV shows:
Similarly to the explorer all devices on the network or local sotrage are being displayed:
Adding a device manually by IP address:
Miscellaneous settings of the media center. There are several languages available:
Only one skin available. There is one additional skin which can be purchased for 4,99€:
Setting up parental control:
Source from where the information (separated by contents and pictures) for movies is downloaded from:
Source for pictures:
Same options for TV shows:
While using the Zappiti Media Center it becomes very obvious that this is the main reason for buying a Zappiti player. The jukebox is very well designed and a joy to use. In case something is not clear the displayed tips are there to help. In particular, the great amount of options to filter or sort videos and the merging of movies into sagas separates this jukebox from the competition. The only downside is that there are few skins and that the layout for TV shows is the same as for movies. In addition, a future update should enable the media center to index music as well.
All in all the playback of the latest Zappiti generation is good. One has to take into account the fact that this review is largely based on the initial firmware whereas other reviews such as the PCH A-500 or Dune Solo 4K were made after several firmware updates. Therefore, future software updates to fix bugs are expected. This review will be updated accordingly.
In general, the start of a video is pleasantly fast (see also later mentioned problem). The same can be said about changing the audio language while playback or time jumps. The right audio language is always being selected, which can be set up in the settings menu.
Bitstreaming of HD audio such as DTS-HD or Dolby TrueHD is flawless. The same can be said about PGS subtitles (these subtitles are used in Blu-rays) inside mkv or BD.iso/folders. The fact that 2160p within H.264 and H.265 with a bitrate of 200 mbit are being played without any stutter and start basically as fast as a 720p video show how powerful the decoder of the RTD1295 is. Therefore, one can assume that the new generation will not have problems with playing back UHD videos once they become available (UHD BD videos have a maximum bitrate of 128 mbit). In addition to 3D BD.iso playback the latest FW (3.04) enables MVC playback inside mkv, so that there is no loss in quality when ripping 3D BDs. So the Zappiti 4K HDR series joins the small group of hardware players like the PCH A-500 or Mede8er 800X3D that can play that format.
Playback of Blu-rays with full menu is not supported, but a simple menu is available where one can choose titles, audio and subtitles. However, DVDs can be played back with menu.
Menu for simple (mkv, avi,...) playback:
Display of audio tracks. Inside mkv DTS-HD MA is displayed as DTS. In this specific case a DTS-HD MA 2.0 track is displayed as a 6 channel DTS track. There is no support for names of audio or subtitles tracks.
Advanced settings menu while playback. Very handy is the option to set the color depth (8,10 or 12 bit) directly while playback.
Notification that the frame rate has been changed (synced to the video):
Menu for BD playback. In addition to the menu for simple playback there are „BD Title Info“ and „BD Chapter Info“. Languages of subtitles and flawless display of PGS subtitles can be observed as well:
The „BD Lite Menu“. It is possible to see the number and length of a title. It is not possible to see which title is being played in this menu. After manually selecting a title this title is displayed as the first entry.
Chapter information of a Blu-ray:
When using SRT subtitles it is possible to change position of the subtitles as well as their appearance:
Properties of the video (basically mediainfo). The information is very detailed which can be of useful in some situations but also makes it difficult to see the most important properties of the video at a glance. This function works only reliable for BDs at the moment:
The interface for playback shows all important options, but could use some visual polish in order to bringing it in line with the rest of Zappiti’s interface which looks beautiful and is intuitive. In addition, some functions like displaying the name of audio and subtitles tracks should be implemented in the future.
There are some issues which should be discussed here:
Subtitles are always active by default. So in case you play back a video that has embedded subtitles these will be displayed and one has to manually disable them for each video. This means that there is also no support for forced or default flag for subtitles.
The resolution of the GUI can’t be set to 1080p23.976 but 1080p24. Most videos have a frame rate of 23.976 so that there wouldn’t be the need for a HDMI resync and the video would start faster. This is not a big problem, but would increase the convenience. Moreover, the video usually plays a few seconds at the frame rate of the GUI and only afterwards changes to the native frame rate of the video.
Frame rate synchronization doesn’t work for 60p video: There is no frame rate sync and the video plays back at the frame rate of the GUI. However, the frame rate sync works flawlessly for all other frame rates so that there is no stutter.
Videos encoded with VC-1 (23.976) stutter every 15 minutes or so for a few seconds and play smoothly until the next occurrence.
If there is any change for the above discussed problem the review will be updated accordingly.
Picture Quality Evaluation:
In order to evaluate the picture quality of the latest Zappiti Generation and thereby the latest Realtek SoC generation as well it will be compared to the Popcorn Hour A-500 PRO which offers the same Sigma Designs SoC as the PCH A-500 and the Dune Solo 4K. The first aspect to mention is that the player has no problems with correctly displaying the BT.709 color space which is used for Blu-rays. The correct playback of BT.2020 couldn’t be tested due to the lack of test patterns and displaying device.
It can be seen that the PCH displays the edges smoother than the Zappiti does. This means that Sigma (inside the PCH) uses the more complex bicubic method whereas Realtek (Zappiti) uses the easier nearest neighbor.
There is an odd flaw visible with the Zappiti. There are visible problems with the outline of both blue boxes. The boxes should be sharp as it is displayed by the PCH.
The Zappiti shows problems with color transitions which are apparent in the blue bar. The result is banding. This is not the case with the PCH.
This shows again that the Sigma SoC uses the bicubic method whereas Realtek uses the inferior nearest neighbor method.
Upscaling from 720p to 1080p:
It is difficult to see differences. The most apparent one is that the picture of the Zappiti is warmer than the one of the PCH.
Again, the picture of the Zappiti is warmer. It seems that the picture of the PCH has a little bit less noise. This is hard to compare since this pictures are not the exact same frames.
The Sigma SoC does a better job upscaling the picture. It can be seen that the Realtek SoC produces double contours at the lower transition from white to grey. The same holds true for the black horizontal lines and the white cross in the middle.
The Realtek SoC tends to over sharpen the image which produces double contours. That said, the effect is not as strong as before so that difference are marginal.
This test shows that the mentioned Sigma Designs SoCs delivers a better picture than the new Realtek SoC. How significant these difference are depends not only on the subjective perception but also on other factors such as the quality and size of the displaying device and viewing distance.
Zappiti MagicPixel v2:
Although Zappiti presents the MagicPixel V2 as a feature that improves the picture quality there is little to no information about it. There are no options whatsoever in the settings menu or in the menu while playback.
Therefore, it is possible that MagicPixel is implemented but can’t be altered by the user. This might be the reason that some pictures are warmer in contrast to the PCH: MagicPixel aims to “improve the dynamics” and “more contrast”.
The second possibility is that this feature is not implemented at all. This appears to be reasonable since such deep processing of the picture usually needs to be implemented in the decoder of the SoC itself. It is hard to believe that Realtek allows a partner such wide access to its hardware.
A response from Zappiti on this matter is expected. As soon as this information becomes available the review will be updated accordingly.
Some important settings are hidden in the „Developer options“:
Comparison of remote and case between the Popcorn Hour A-500 and the Zappiti Duo 4K HDR:
The Zappiti Duo 4K HDR offers the latest in video standards and is ready for future UHD BD rips due to the powerful decoder. The main reason for this player is the Zappiti Media Center which not only offers an intuitive handling but also a nice and functional interface. One can hope that problems such as banding and always-on subtitles are fixed in the near future.
With FW 3.07 Zappiti I proved on the picture quality department. Banding is gone, and chroma upsampling was improved as well.
Here are some pictures of the Zappiti and the Oppo 203. Videos are 1080p upscaled by the players to 2160p and then send to a Sony VW360.
Thanks for your in-depth review. Re: "The resolution of the GUI can’t be set to 1080p23.976 but 1080p24", it isn't an issue really as most of us will likely have GUI rez set at 1080p/60 or 2160p/60, depending on our display. More important is refresh rate switching, especially proper render of 23.976 at 23.976... does your JVC PJ show details on the framerate it's receiving from the player?
Also, does it play 3D MVC MKV's? Proper render, with depth/dimensionality like with 3D ISO's? I'm surprised by the VC-1 23.976 stutter as Zidoo X9S plays that fine. Only slight 'judder' I still get is with 4K VP9 videos.
Overall, looks like Zappiti is off to a good start w/their new line of RTD1295 players, but even with the Zappiti jukebox and slightly better looking h/w (build quality), it's hard to justify the price premium over Zidoo X9S/X8.
Thanks for pointing out the settings in developer options. Hadn't seen that and it is useful.
No the JVC doesn't show this properly, but with a few tricks I still now what framerate it is.
Yes, MVC within mkv is rendered properly. I didnt test it side by side but it doesn't look different from the 3D image of the PCH. It is also possible to alter the depth of the video itself. This introduces ghosting really fast, though.
Regarding VC-1, yes its a strange issue. I don't know if this is limited to 23.976, though as there is not much VC-1 content with a different frame rate and the issue only appears after 15 minutes.
How would you rate the FW support of Zidoo? Since this is my first Zappiti I can't say much about FW support. Time will tell.
F/W support on Zidoo has been about a B+ since X9S was released. With the most recent update, I'd say that X9S/X8 are 90% solid (proper framerate switching, no HD audio dropouts, and both 3D ISO's & MVC MKV's look great). This is all via ZDMC, Zidoo's custom Kodi fork.
On the 4K side, the outstanding issue according to a Kodi forum user in the know, is that choosing 'auto' or '4:4:4' in color space, causes stutter. He says...
I just bought the Zappiti Mini 4K HDR (imported from the UK with the help of @sutton8 ) with this review being the final push I needed to go for it. I was wondering though, do you think the Zappiti can improve the upsampling to match the method PCH uses via firmware or is that inherent with the SoC used (Realtek vs Sigma)? Thanks for the wonderful review!
Have i missed it or there's no slider or settings on all the settings menu for the hdmi in at all ?
I have five hard drives with about 9tb of blu-ray and DVD movies. The DVD's are in m2ts file structure and the blu-rays are in ISO format. If I purchase this media center, I plan to put two of hard drives into the Zappiti and the other three will in a Mobius 5-Bay Enclosure that is set up in JOBD. Will the Zappiti Media Center be able to sort or index all the movies from the five hard drives into one library in alphabetical order? If it can will the jukebox be available locally within the Zappiti and can the movies be played from it?
Locally not really. It will create the DB in the cloud. You can take it offline, but for things like updating it etc you have to make in online again.
You just have to point to your media in the settings as normal.
In the settings you just select the location of the drives and specify whether they are movies or TV. Take note that your TV and movie media have to be in different folders or the scan wont work properly. You can add as many folders as you want.
After that you just scan and an alphabetical wall is created for movies and another for TV. You can change the posters and re-identify any that are wrong using the TVDB or IMDB identity.
There are videos on the Zappiti website showing what to do but it really couldn't be any easier.
Wow, great review Sledgehamma.
Was looking forward to this one, thanks!
I still have a Mede8er600 with the older Realtek chip 1186.
When i compare the picture quality with my standalone Samsung Blu Ray player (HT-H5530), the Mede8er picture quality is not even close to the 5530.
Is this new Zappity 4K HDR picture quality good enough to replace my 2 years old Blu Ray player?
It has been suggested on another forum that this media player will never do any better than 480p on Netflix. Anybody care to comment.
Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
How's the PQ of this vs the Dune Solo 4K?
This surprised me since usually Netflix is only supported in HD and above on Netflix approved devices.
Is there a lot of difference in picture quality in this new Realtek RTD 1295 chip versus the latest Sigma SMP8758 chip?
Why not use a lossless HDMI capture device for the picture quality analysis?
It would be easier and more accurate the result.
|All times are GMT -7. The time now is 02:23 AM.|
Powered by vBulletin® Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2019 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
vBulletin Optimisation provided by vB Optimise (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2019 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
User Alert System provided by Advanced User Tagging (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2019 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.