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Topic # 109076 12-Sep-2012 08:59 Send private message

What's the best cheap hardware to run XBMC on as a home media player? I use a PS3 now but it won't play everything, and I also want to run Skype. If it could run blu ray, great, otherwise I'll get a blu ray player.

I just ordered a Mele A2000, which is an Arm system similar to the Raspberry Pi. I think I jumped in too soon, the problem I've discovered since ordering is XMBC with hardware acceleration isn't supported, and it may never be supported. It has some hardware acceleration under Android. Cheap ARM might be there in a year, but I don't think it's quite ready yet. I may cancel that order.

Would something like an Lenovo Q180 be good? Intel Atom, 4Gb RAM, AMD Radeon HD 7450A 512MB. It's still a few hundred dollars, which is more than I really wanted to spend, given the PS3 works pretty well.




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  Reply # 684747 12-Sep-2012 09:14 Send private message

See the "$25 Raspberry Pi running XMBC" thread...



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  Reply # 684753 12-Sep-2012 09:18 Send private message

I've seen that thread. The Raspberry Pi has a slower CPU but a better supported GPU, so hardware decoding's much better supported. I went for the faster box without realising the GPU wasn't as well supported, at least not yet.

I could go R.Pi, but maybe I should go for something more mainstream to make XBMC and Skype easier? Like a small Intel box with a well supported GPU? I'd rather not have a computer running my media centre, but it looks like the best way right now.




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  Reply # 684758 12-Sep-2012 09:31 Send private message

skype is the problem, you might get skype on a android device with webcam, but xbmc android support isnt the best yet, give it a few months.

so in the meantime a netbook or similar is your best way to go (but personally i would either wait, or go the raspberrypi route and use skype on the ps3)



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  Reply # 684798 12-Sep-2012 10:29 Send private message

A netbook wouldn't be a great solution as an XBMC home theatre media system driving a 55" LCD TV would it? Something headless with an ok video card and a little bit of CPU would be better, no?

I'm not stuck to ARM or Android. If the best platform is Ubuntu on low end PC hardware then so be it, so long as I can watch TV and do Skype.




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  Reply # 685166 12-Sep-2012 20:12 Send private message

i would wait

with xbmc coming for android this could make things interesting - things like ouya are worth keeping an eye on too

rasp pi seems to be ok - but some reports re sluggishness still...

that cubieboard looks interesting too

i have had an xtreamer ultra for over a year now - atom d525 / ion 2 based machine - as my htpc - running win7 + xbmc on an int hdd - and it does the trick pretty well for xbmc etc (there is now an ultra 2)

these seem reasonably priced too - http://www.pulse-eight.com/store/products/107-pulsebox-xbmc-based-home-theatre-pc.aspx

i would like a second box running xbmc - but will personally be waiting to see how the above options develop before making the leap



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  Reply # 685180 12-Sep-2012 20:35 Send private message

Cubieboard and Mele A2000 are basically the same thing, neither have any hardware acceleration that XMBC supports. Allwinner that makes the CPU/GPU aren't playing nice with anyone either, so support will take a while, if it ever happens. If they ever do support it it should be significantly faster than the R Pi.

The Pulse8 looks good, but it's US$340 with disk or US$400/NZ$500 with SSD. I can build a pretty powerful HTPC for about $700 with SSD, maybe less if I try.

Raspberri Pi looks well supported and open. Sluggish, probably, Skype, maybe eventually but not any time soon, fantastic value HTPC and good performing HTPC, absolutely, and it's $100.

So given the Skype requirement is costing $600, maybe I just keep using my Android tablet for that, and use a R Pi for HTPC. That seems like the most sensible option right now. That or just keep using the PS3, but I'm finding it a bit annoying.




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  Reply # 685231 12-Sep-2012 22:19 Send private message

yeah i am keeping a close eye on the ouya - given that the xbmc team have said they will work with them - i am hopeful they won't deliver a sluggish sub standard version

if they can nail this and a decent spotify app, i would be all over it - esp for $99usd - it is a wait and see thing though - hopefully the ouya (or another low cost android based box) shows up and delivers....

re the pulse 8 / ultra /zotac etc option - if someone wanted a smallish footprint, then these would be a valid option (as it was for me) - albeit not super grunty

hard to beat a full size system for grunt / features / value though...

good luck with your decision :)

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  Reply # 685250 12-Sep-2012 22:58 Send private message

heck even if ouya isnt all that great, its only $150nzd ish to play around with it. im willing to risk that amount on something that could be awesome.

worst case scenario with ouya is you will have a separate game console, and u could probably sell it on trademe and recover your costs if you dont like it.

but i have really high hopes for ouya (for gaming as well as xbmc, xbmc comes down to the remote, hopefully the motorola nxyboard works with it... or they release a similar remote (dont like using phones for remotes)).

im finding the only real sluggish part of xbmc menus is a large movie library, switch to genres, or recently added views and its fine (having no issues with tv library, about 30 shows in it, many seasons, many episodes, but only displaying max 30 things in a list at a time, never use "all seasons" option)



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  Reply # 685315 13-Sep-2012 07:54 Send private message

Ouya does sound ideal. It's Tegra 3, so the CPU and GPU are both fast, and reasonably well understood and supported. Skype exists for Android. I think it'll do everything I want, so once they fix the problems with their website and PayPal account I'll probably pre-order one.

I think I'll get the Raspberry Pi, partly to do the job, partly to play with. Though since I've never used XBMC maybe I should try that on my home PC first.

Then I just need to get an IR receiver so my Harmony can control it, though I'll probably get a full sized wireless keyboard and some kind of mouse that'll work on a sofa too.




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  Reply # 685319 13-Sep-2012 08:03 Send private message

Skype for Android is deficient in many ways, and there is much grizzling about it. The deal-breaker for me is that there is no way to be invisible.



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  Reply # 685322 13-Sep-2012 08:11 Send private message

xarqi: Skype for Android is deficient in many ways, and there is much grizzling about it. The deal-breaker for me is that there is no way to be invisible.


I can live with that. It works fine for what we need, which is turning it on when we want to use it, and logging out when we're done. It works fine on my Asus Transformer tablet.




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