MrMC, the only forked version of Kodi in the official Fire TV appstore, has just been updated to version 2.4 with a bunch of great new features. For starters, MrMC can now run at a resolution of 2160p, making it the first Fire TV app capable of playing local 4K content at full resolution. The update also brings true support for refresh rate switching to the Fire TV for the first time. This is a feature that home theater enthusiasts have been begging for ever since the Fire TV first launched, and even Amazon’s own video player doesn’t support it. With refresh rate switching enabled, MrMC will automatically change the Fire TV’s refresh rate to match the frame rate of the video being played. This greatly reduces or entirely eliminates visual artifacts caused by 3:2 pulldown and screen tearing. As if 4K support and refresh rate switching weren’t enough, the new update also adds a built in Plex client, as well as a LightEffects client to support Ambilight-style LED lighting.
The implementation of 2160p in MrMC is perfect because it gives you full control of how you’d like resolution switching to be handled. By default, MrMC will launch at the resolution set by Fire OS and switch resolutions to 2160p when a 4K video is played. This mimics the behavior of how Fire OS handles 4K Amazon video. However, if you prefer, you can go into MrMC’s settings area and manually set a resolution under the System > Video output menu. From there you can also manually set the refresh rate. Manually setting a resolution and/or refresh rate will cause MrMC to switch into those settings at launch, instead of when a video is played. So if you know most of your content is 4K @ 24p for example, then you can set that and have MrMC at the ideal resolution at launch. Note that your Fire OS display settings must be set to “Auto” for MrMC’s manual display settings to be available. This is because setting a specific resolution in Fire OS overrides MrMC’s ability to change the resolution.
In addition to being able to manually set a resolution and refresh rate, which in and of itself is a first for any Fire TV app, you can also set MrMC to automatically adjust the display refresh rate to match the video being played. This feature has been in Kodi for a long time, but it has never worked on the Fire TV until now. The refresh rate options work just as well on 1080p and 720p TVs and are not limited to 2160p TVs.
The Fire TV displays its interface and content at 60Hz. This is ideal for the user interface, because it results in smooth transitions and animations as you navigate around the Fire TV, but it’s not ideal for video playback. Enabling automatic display refresh rate syncing, which can be done in MrMC’s settings under the Video > Playback menu, will cause MrMC to change the Fire TV’s refresh rate so that it best matches the frame rate of played videos. Since most movies and TV shows are filmed at 23.976 or 29.97 frames per second, enabling this setting will change your TV to 24Hz or 30Hz when playing such videos, assuming your TV supports those refresh rates. As mentioned earlier, matching video frame rate to display refresh rate, or getting as close as possible, can result in smoother playback by avoiding 3:2 pulldown and screen tearing. Note that selecting 24Hz actually sets the TV to 23.976Hz, so playback is buttery smooth at a perfect 1-to-1 match.
Version 2.4 of MrMC also introduces a built-in Plex client. This allows MrMC to display and playback content from a Plex server natively within MrMC’s interface, without needing an add-on. This new built-in Plex client only plays content via Direct Play, meaning content will not be transcoded before playing. Your content, thumbnails, video art, and metadata are all pulled in from the Plex server and displayed in MrMC as if it were native content, but without the need to scrape any data. It is a great solution for syncing your library across multiple Fire TVs, without having to use a complicated external MySQL database.
The update also adds support for LightEffects, which is a homebrew version of Philips Ambilight LED ambient lighting that works with boblight servers. This allows video played within MrMC to sync with LED light strips placed behind your TV, creating an immersive viewing experience. The update also includes numerous bug fixes, as you’d expect.
When MrMC first arrived in the Fire TV appstore, it was greeted with naysayers insisting that MrMC’s developers were just out to make money off of the free version of Kodi. I wrote a follow up article expressing my support for MrMC’s developers because they are XBMC/Kodi team members who were the original ones that ported XBMC/Kodi to Android in the first place. They already deserve my $5.99, the cost of MrMC, for their past efforts alone, and for literally being the reason Kodi is even compatible with Android and the Fire TV. Anything they’ve done beyond that, like releasing these great new features, is just bonus extra’s in my book.
On top of it all, MrMC is open source, so if Kodi (hopefully) down the line gains the above mentioned features, it will be a direct result of MrMC’s effort. I know most of you reading this will stick with Kodi, and you probably should, but this update is a clear example of why MrMC’s developers do not deserve any flack for forking Kodi and trying to make a few bucks by improving it.