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154 posts

Master Geek
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  Reply # 747538 19-Jan-2013 21:07 Send private message

I have spent/wasted a lot of time on this issue myself recently for a job, I looked at every media player under the sun, and in the end built a little mini-pc because it was cheaper for the client... I don't know where you are getting prices on the Intel NUCs, when I costed it it came to $1300+ from PB Tech once it had everything installed. This is the gigabit LAN model. If the client wasn't such a tightarse with money (he just made $10 million from selling his company) I would have got the NUC though, for sure.

In any case, the i3-3220 mini-pc I built boots in less than 4 seconds which is much faster than any media player and faster than my about $5500 PC and auto-boots from cold and plays eveything flawlessly - and I mean EVERYTHING. I put Windows 7 on it because it was significantly cheaper than the client paying me to configure OpenELEC.

None of the Android media players are any good. They can't play back crap, and neither will XBMC on Android for the foreseeable future which includes the OUYA (which I am a supporter of) because the on-board graphics cannot play back high-bitrate 1080p content which you clearly want. Tegra 3 CANNOT even play back MKV natively, period.

Now, if I knew about this QNAP device, I would have totally bought that, though. I feel like a real dummy for not knowing about it... how come I didn't know about it? I hope it's a new thing, I didn't know such NASes existed.

Otherwise an HTPC of some form (the Xtreamer Ultra IS an htpc) is what is required to run XBMC right and it is worth it. Honestly, if you do it properly, an HTPC is so easy to run these days with your android/iOS device as the remote. And if you install something like an iBoot G2 it will automatically power off/reboot it (dependent on setting up your motherboard's BIOS as well) for you in the unlikely event of a crash, in case pressing the reset button on the htpc is too hard/difficult or you've installed it somewhere hard to get to.


If you can afford it, and yuou are a movie fanatatic with a huge library, there is no worthy alternative to XBMC, not by a LONG shot.

And a Mac Mini is no cheaper than building an HTPC and it'll be slower to boot and I would not vouch for the playback compared to an htpc. If you want something that small/quiet and already have a NAS, then get the Intel NUC.



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  Reply # 747544 19-Jan-2013 21:27 Send private message

Update: I have pretty much decided to use the spare C2D 3Ghz in my rack that does occasional duty as a simracing PC. It has a GTX560 and in Windows, XBMC is great. Super smooth and the card supports all the audio passthrough formats, as well as the frequency switching (24P for example).

It's also noiseless since it's 3 rooms away in a rack and connected by a 10M HDMI cable. I am currently using a smartphone remote, but I'll get an active USB extension cable and an IR receiver to use the Harmony as well for basic functions.

Really annoyed there are a few great 720P solutions around for XBMC, but still nothing good enough for discerning people to use for 1080P.

Strangely, once configured well, the Raspberry Pi was closest, but in the UI and the database side of things, it was nearly unusably glacial. Menus were OK if it wasn't doing anything else, but a simple movie scan or anything brought it to it's knees. Actual HW assisted 1080P playback though was great.

Cheers - N

154 posts

Master Geek
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  Reply # 747558 19-Jan-2013 22:22 Send private message

Talkiet: Update: I have pretty much decided to use the spare C2D 3Ghz in my rack that does occasional duty as a simracing PC. It has a GTX560 and in Windows, XBMC is great. Super smooth and the card supports all the audio passthrough formats, as well as the frequency switching (24P for example).

It's also noiseless since it's 3 rooms away in a rack and connected by a 10M HDMI cable. I am currently using a smartphone remote, but I'll get an active USB extension cable and an IR receiver to use the Harmony as well for basic functions.


This is a very smart decision. It's waaayyyy overpowered but you already own it :)

But why do you need a Harmony? If you use the right XBMC remote you really have no need to use anything but a smartphone/tablet. Whole family can use their own tablets/phones to control it too. If you want a dedicated controller for it, maybe look at getting an APad from Pb Tech? An IR controller is not going to be any more reliable or user friendly, far from it in fact.



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  Reply # 747565 19-Jan-2013 22:47 Send private message

Im gonna have to look into doing something like this too, many of the files from my auntie over the last few weeks are not playing on the plex player on the smart tv.




Richard rich.ms



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  Reply # 747578 20-Jan-2013 00:17 Send private message

bisr: 
This is a very smart decision. It's waaayyyy overpowered but you already own it :)

But why do you need a Harmony? If you use the right XBMC remote you really have no need to use anything but a smartphone/tablet. Whole family can use their own tablets/phones to control it too. If you want a dedicated controller for it, maybe look at getting an APad from Pb Tech? An IR controller is not going to be any more reliable or user friendly, far from it in fact.


I do use a fully features remote on my smartphone, but if I want to hit pause, I don't want to have to load an app, navigate to the right page and then press pause - I just want to hit a button. Preferably a button on the same remote I use to change volume... Since I am doing audio passthrough to the amp, XBMC can't do volume.

Cheers - N


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  Reply # 747588 20-Jan-2013 00:55 Send private message

If you have a full powered machine why don't you
- install MySQL on that machine
- install xbmc on that server to do a full scan once to load into mysql
- configure pi to scan when idle
just don't want people reading this thread thinking pi isn't good enough to do 1080p I'm completely happy with my 3 pis

154 posts

Master Geek
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  Reply # 747682 20-Jan-2013 10:46 Send private message

Have you checked out OpenRemote? Opensource home integration/automation which will give you a fully configurable touchscreen remote on your iOS/Android device.

You can turn down the volume within XBMC though, effectively it operates as a pre-amp or 'source' volume. Because of this fact I am sure you could configure all of this with OpenRemote too.



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  Reply # 747686 20-Jan-2013 11:00 Send private message

bisr: Have you checked out OpenRemote? Opensource home integration/automation which will give you a fully configurable touchscreen remote on your iOS/Android device.

You can turn down the volume within XBMC though, effectively it operates as a pre-amp or 'source' volume. Because of this fact I am sure you could configure all of this with OpenRemote too.


From a very brief look, Openremote doesn't look like it integrates with the database on XBMC, but is just a touchscreen remote control. One of the dedicated XBMC remotes that grabs the movies and TV shows etc would be a far better solution.

And I'm afraid that if using XBMC to pass through AC3/DTS/etc then no, it is NOT possible to use it to control volume. There's no concept of volume in the digital data stream. XBMC does have volume controls but they are only effective when the XBMC device itself is decoding the digital audio and outputting an analogue signal.

Don't get me wrong - I DO have a smartphone remote that I use for some stuff... But the Harmony that I use for volume, for switching inputs on the amp etc is a better solution for basic XBMC navigation and play controls.

Cheers - N


154 posts

Master Geek
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  Reply # 747692 20-Jan-2013 11:11 Send private message

Aha yes I missed the necessary word pass through there, sorry :-)


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  Reply # 748742 22-Jan-2013 13:02 Send private message

I got a R Pi to use instead of my PS3 for playing video stored on a PC across a network. I find the image quality of the R Pi lower than the PS3, especially during busy action scenes. The CEC remote integration that used to work doesn't work any more either, no idea why or how to fix it. The menus are a bit slow too, even with everything stored on a remote MySQL server.

I quite like XBMC, but it's not super user friendly, you really need a keyboard to fully use it. I'd quite like to find decent hardware to replace the R Pi, but it seems there's nothing compact available for less than $1000 unless you want to hack an ATV or something.




Asus eee pad transformer
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Lots and lots of Nikon camera gear



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  Reply # 748748 22-Jan-2013 13:05 Send private message

timmmay: I got a R Pi to use instead of my PS3 for playing video stored on a PC across a network. I find the image quality of the R Pi lower than the PS3, especially during busy action scenes. The CEC remote integration that used to work doesn't work any more either, no idea why or how to fix it. The menus are a bit slow too, even with everything stored on a remote MySQL server.

I quite like XBMC, but it's not super user friendly, you really need a keyboard to fully use it. I'd quite like to find decent hardware to replace the R Pi, but it seems there's nothing compact available for less than $1000 unless you want to hack an ATV or something.


Welcome to my square 1 :-)

The ATV2 is a superb solution if you can live with 720p output.

But yes, next step up for something solid, fluid and quick is a proper PC and that's either $3-400 cheap secondhand and ugly/noisy, or $800+ new. $1000+ for a really nice case and silent.

I ended up with a big machine in another room using a 10m HDMI cable. If you can make that work, I recommend it.

Cheers - N


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  Reply # 748752 22-Jan-2013 13:20 Send private message

timmmay: I quite like XBMC, but it's not super user friendly, you really need a keyboard to fully use it.

have to strongly disagree with this.  i have xbmc 5 clients around the house, my parents have it on their computer in their bedroom and in the lounge, they use it just with the remote and have no problems with it.  and they're very much against technology, they like dumb things that just work.  
only remote mappings i added were mapping the "epg" button on the remote to the pvr guide (as this wasnt in there by default when i set up their computers).

xbmc is designed for a remote, it was originally written for the xbox and to use the dvd player remote for it.



timmmay:I'd quite like to find decent hardware to replace the R Pi, but it seems there's nothing compact available for less than $1000 unless you want to hack an ATV or something.

there are plenty of options for less than $1000, 
- raspberrypi
- android pivox xios ds
- atv2
- apple mac mini (can usually get these second hand for a few hundred cheaper, brand new still less than $1000 though)
- nettops
- mini pcs
- dell make a similar computer to a mac mini
- Xtreamer Ultra 2

personally i think you're nuts if you build a full HTPC these days with all the other devices available,
it will
- cost you more,
- take up more space
- be louder (louder than silent, still may be super quiet)
- be harder to sell if you want to get rid of it later (i bought a mac mini from dse on special for $850 and sold it for $800 a year later, htpcs i usually end up giving away or selling for around $200).
- more work to setup OS etc (there are some openelec builds that may just work, but if you buy certain clients, there are OSs made especially for them (some come with xbmc preinstalled)).

if you want to store movies on it, buy a NAS.  if you want to record tv on it, buy a usb tuner card.  if you want to have multiple clients and one tv server, sure spend money building a proper server (which you can do more with, i use mine as a desktop) but keep the clients cheap and small.  ive been using HTPCs for about 14 years now (win98), use to spend about $2500 building an awesome HTPC (with nice case etc), but now i'm happy with the pis; but I will likely replace them with ouyas when they come out.

oh if you have a old machine lying around, sure just use that. only nuts if you building one new :)

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  Reply # 748764 22-Jan-2013 13:26 Send private message

Ok, XBMC is usable with a standard remote if you have powerful enough hardware, but more advanced stuff requires a keyboard. For example, fast forwarding with an R Pi is approximately 1.001X normal playback speed, all it seems to do is disable the sound. The only way I've found to effectively go forward is with the 30 second skip button. When you do that everything looks weird for a few seconds until it sorts itself out.

Getting a remote working is a hassle. I have a harmony one, tried to set it up once and gave up. It's probably easy if you have the right guide.

XTreamer looks good, but I find it hard to trust companies who can't even run a spell checker over their website.




Asus eee pad transformer
iPod 2G
Windows 7 PC
Lots and lots of Nikon camera gear

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  Reply # 748777 22-Jan-2013 13:39 Send private message

timmmay: Ok, XBMC is usable with a standard remote if you have powerful enough hardware, but more advanced stuff requires a keyboard. For example, fast forwarding with an R Pi is approximately 1.001X normal playback speed, all it seems to do is disable the sound. The only way I've found to effectively go forward is with the 30 second skip button. When you do that everything looks weird for a few seconds until it sorts itself out.

thats just inexperience with xbmc, which is completely fine, theres no real common way a mediacentre app works.  basically you don't fastforward with HTPCs, you just skip, its quicker and easier.  in xbmc you achieve this by
- left/right = short skip, +-30 seconds
- up/down = large skip, +- 10 minutes (or next/prev chapter if file has chapters in it)

mediaportal has this the best, its a gradual skip, so it starts
push left, skip is 30 seconds
push left again, skip is 60 seconds
push left again, skip is 2mins
again, 5mins
again, 10 mins
etc, after you stop pushing left it will skip, about a 1.5/2 second delay, this is really nice. has been requested on xbmc forums, but basically shot down by the devs.

timmmay: Getting a remote working is a hassle. I have a harmony one, tried to set it up once and gave up. It's probably easy if you have the right guide.

most remotes work out of the box, so if you're using a MCE IR receiver the mce remote would work for pretty much everything (i/info or a colour button is usually context menu, which you use every so often).  theres addons that let you configure the remote from within xbmc as well, so if you want to change the "radio" shortcut to goto "BBC iPlayer" or something you can.  but thats advanced stuff, for most basic stuff it should "just work".

personally i use the motorola nyxboard remote from pulse eight, its designed for xbmc, has a keyboard on the bottom (handy for youtube searches, entering username/passwords etc).  every client ive tried works without any configuration with it, just plug it in and it works (clients include windows, openelec, xbmcbuntu, raspbmc)

timmmay: XTreamer looks good, but I find it hard to trust companies who can't even run a spell checker over their website.

check what people are saying about them on the internet/xbmc forums then, most people seem to be happy with them.  having said that ive never bought from them, but ive heard good things (was going to buy one before the pi was announced), but sure do some research about the company.



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  Reply # 748779 22-Jan-2013 13:40 Send private message

Related question... Where (locally) could I get a reasonably priced standard USB IR receiver for a PC? I have the RCE6 one that comes with the MCE remote but it's far from standard and doesn't support emulating an MCE keyboard. (Which is the best way to configure an XBMC remote)

Cheers - N

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