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Topic # 215072 11-Jun-2017 13:29
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Long story short: Looking for advice and recommendations for app-based (Android?) streaming device for Internet TV viewing.

 

Longer version: Our rural location was late to get broadband so I didn’t have much networking experience when we got plunged into the world of SVOD. I also have never had a smart phone so no experience in that direction either. My computers run Windows and I have an old Android tablet I play with from time to time. I tried the first version of Chromecast but it didn’t work well for us and I got rid of it.

 

I looked at some popular devices like Apple TV, Kodi, Plex, but have never been able to see enough value in them. They mainly seemed focused on organising existing libraries but that has never been an issue for us. We just want to be able to stream live content and VOD from the Internet to a single TV in the lounge.

 

So I went with something familiar and set up an old PC running Win 7 as my streaming computer. I also have other machines with Win 7, 8.1 and 10, so am familiar with those OS versions. For various reasons, I prefer Win 7 for streaming.

 

The quality of our RBI connection used to be somewhat unreliable, though it seems much better now. It probably isn’t suitable for UHD but that isn’t an issue for us. Our viewing preferences are all over the world, particularly UK and Europe, also some Aussie FTA and USA. We use geo-unblocking. We are not particularly interested in the main US sites like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu.

 

Because of our viewing tastes, there don’t seem to be apps for most of the sites we would be interested in, except perhaps the BBC. That is also a reason I decided a PC with browser would be more useful to us. Nothing beats it for flexibility.

 

I have devoted a lot of effort to optimising the PC solution. I use URL shortcuts for our favourite sites and AutoHotKey scripts for menus. In spite of this, it is still often awkward to navigate to different sites. Sometimes it is necessary to mouse back and forth on the screen and different sites and media players often require different inputs. Even with scripts it can take several keystrokes to find the desired content, log in, start playback, and go full screen. I can work with this but others in the household find it too much trouble.

 

So… is there a better solution to this? If there any device that makes it possible to click on a wide range of sites, scroll through channels, and start playback just like pressing a channel button on the TV remote? Is it possible to create my own apps for obscure sites to do this kind of thing? Is there a device I am unaware of that can already do all of this? Maybe I should add that age is making it harder for me to muster the concentration and energy needed for complex programming tasks, so the simpler the better.

 

We have a Sony Bravia pre-Android smart TV. The apps on it are painfully useless. I don’t know why they even bother. It seems counter-productive to me. But if the apps actually pointed to worthwhile sites they would be brilliant. Just a screen full of point and click tiles. That is what we want.

 

Here are a few examples of the kinds of sites we watch: SBS, ABC iView, PBS, Classical TV, many YouTube channels, BBC iPlayer, ITV, Dutch NPO channels, Curiosity, French and German Arte, DW, etc.

 

 





I reject your reality and substitute my own. - Adam Savage
 


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  Reply # 1798108 11-Jun-2017 17:13
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I do all of my live or on-demand streaming via the AppleTV4. If you're unblocking, then the setup will take some time - namely sorting out iTunes accounts in the countries that have the different apps you'll want to download. This is fairly easy to do without needing to provide a payment method (instructions are easy to find online), it just means going through the process once for each country. The apps themselves will all be free. The great thing about the ATV4 is that regardless of which countries you got the apps from, or what region the ATV4 is set to, everything you've installed will happily co-exist on your home screen and you can just flick between them with the remote control provided. It provides that one-button control you're seeking. 

 

You may find the ATV somewhat less useful if you don't have an iPad or iPhone from which to AirPlay sites that don't have a native app (like TVNZ), although there is software you can get to enable AirPlay from a Windows PC. Many of the services you've named above do have apps, though - SBS, ABC, PBS, YouTube, BBC, ITV, NPO, Curiosity and Arte can all be installed. There's also an app called TVStreams (available in the NZ app store for about $6) that enables you to import and watch the IPTV links for free streaming channels, which might be a good solution for channels that don't have their own app - BUT I think you need an iOS device on which to do the importing, which then syncs the info with the ATV app (details here). You can also run Plex to stream locally stored content, and I believe Kodi can be sideloaded (though I've never tried so not sure how easy it is).

 

Finding the one box to rule them all is probably the holy grail of SVOD, and I'm not sure there's a 100% perfect device out there, but for me, ATV4 has fulfilled all its original promise since it was released, and has lately rendered my little Minix Neo Windows box obsolete. Note: Older versions of the ATV will not be suitable - you need the 4 to get the app store.





Geek girl. Freelance copywriter and editor at Unmistakable.

 

Currently using: Modified 2008 Mac Pro, HP M6-1017TX Laptop, iPad Pro, iPhone 6S, iPhone 5, AppleTV4, Minix Neo Z-64.




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  Reply # 1798145 11-Jun-2017 19:16
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Thanks a lot for the excellent reply @littleheaven. This is exactly the kind of information I need. It is hard to know what something is really like without having it in front of you. AppleTV is certainly one of the options I have been considering but we aren't really in the Apple ecosystem and I'm a lot more comfortable with Windows. I already have something a lot like Airplay with the system I have built, which can be remotely accessed from a notebook at the viewing position. I just click to log on, which is automatic, then I can easily navigate the streaming pc through the notebook. But this is what I want to get away from. I just want to click once on a pretty coloured square and have everything happen automatically. 

 

It is interesting to know how many of the sites I mentioned are available through apps, though. Thanks again for the information.

 

 





I reject your reality and substitute my own. - Adam Savage
 


 
 
 
 


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  Reply # 1798159 11-Jun-2017 19:57
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No problem. If you do decide to go down that route, feel free to DM me for help. I hope you find something that works for you.




Geek girl. Freelance copywriter and editor at Unmistakable.

 

Currently using: Modified 2008 Mac Pro, HP M6-1017TX Laptop, iPad Pro, iPhone 6S, iPhone 5, AppleTV4, Minix Neo Z-64.


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  Reply # 1798160 11-Jun-2017 19:57
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No problem. If you do decide to go down that route, feel free to DM me for help. I hope you find something that works for you.




Geek girl. Freelance copywriter and editor at Unmistakable.

 

Currently using: Modified 2008 Mac Pro, HP M6-1017TX Laptop, iPad Pro, iPhone 6S, iPhone 5, AppleTV4, Minix Neo Z-64.


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  Reply # 1798163 11-Jun-2017 20:03
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We went from an Android box to a Roku.  For streaming it is far better (just works, versus chinese Android box where you have to piss about endlessly finding the right version of apps to get HD), there's an easy to use remote, and you can stream from iPhone and Android with no dramas.  Only downside is you can't just buy them from a store here although you can often find them on TradeMe.  

 

Avoid the stick, go with Roku 3 or better IMO, the stick is a bit sluggish (maybe the latest one is better).  We have the Premiere+ which does 4K and has a headphone jack on the remote, which is nice.

 

We use mostly Netflix, Plex and Youtube but have also used Hulu with good success.

 

A cheaper option if you don't mind using your Android devices to control is the Chromecast.  But I can't really recommend as I've not used one in anger.


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  Reply # 1798240 12-Jun-2017 04:45
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This might be of interest for your Kodi? as it has the dutch channels. Looks to be legit stream sources

 

Retrospect (Previously XBMC Online TV) is an Kodi video add-on which allows you to watch streams of a number of online TV stream sites.

 

http://www.rieter.net/content/#Retrospect-Framework_vs_Retrospect_the_Add-on

 

http://www.rieter.net/content/xot/channels/

 

 





 




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  Reply # 1798345 12-Jun-2017 10:15
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That is useful info. Thanks for the link. Kodi and Apple look to be the most interesting for me at present. I may decide to do both but haven't made up my mind yet.

 

 





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  Reply # 1798356 12-Jun-2017 10:51
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What I really like with the Apple TV 4 is that it communicates with the TV and receiver via HDMI. So I can turn on and off the TV and receiver, and am able to control the volume on the receiver through the Apple TV 4 remote.

 

Its made redundant all the other streaming devices. (I have had Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Playstation as streaming devices in the past).

 

Its a really user friendly setup.





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  Reply # 1798372 12-Jun-2017 11:16
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I agree! But easier if the OP has an iOS device as well, which I don't think they do at present.





Geek girl. Freelance copywriter and editor at Unmistakable.

 

Currently using: Modified 2008 Mac Pro, HP M6-1017TX Laptop, iPad Pro, iPhone 6S, iPhone 5, AppleTV4, Minix Neo Z-64.




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  Reply # 1798384 12-Jun-2017 11:48
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We are not likely to either. My question would be if we could still do the things we wanted to without a mobile device, even if it is more trouble. 

 

 





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  Reply # 1798431 12-Jun-2017 13:01
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You'll be able to do most things on the ATV4, although you'll miss out on the opportunity to AirPlay sites without native apps (unless you get some third-party software to enable it from a PC). And TVStreams won't work because you need to enter the stream urls on the companion app on the mobile device. There are other apps out there that do the same thing, but I don't know if you need the iOS device for those too. But you don't HAVE to have an iOS device for the ATV4 to still be super useful. You can set it up using the on-screen menu, and you can create the iTunes accounts just as easily on a PC.





Geek girl. Freelance copywriter and editor at Unmistakable.

 

Currently using: Modified 2008 Mac Pro, HP M6-1017TX Laptop, iPad Pro, iPhone 6S, iPhone 5, AppleTV4, Minix Neo Z-64.




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  Reply # 1798542 12-Jun-2017 15:02
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AirPlay doesn't bother me. TV Streams might. Could it be done with a borrowed device or does it have to be tied to the ATV4?

 

 

 

 





I reject your reality and substitute my own. - Adam Savage
 


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  Reply # 1798744 12-Jun-2017 17:53
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Yes, I'm pretty sure you could do it on a borrowed device, but you might need to log into it with your own iTunes account for it to sync to the AppleTV. It would also be a pain if your streams went out of date, as they frequently do, and you needed to update them. 

 

I've had a close look at the TVStreams site and there is a way to do it without an iOS device or a Mac, using Pastebin. First, create (or download) an m3u8 playlist on your Windows computer (it's easy to find instructions online). Save it to your computer as a plain text file for ease of future editing. Then copy it to Pastebin. As I understand it, Pastebin will give you a single URL for the file. Go into the "add stream" section of TVStreams and there's a Pastebin option, where you can manually enter the Pastebin URL with the AppleTV remote. It would be slow going entering all the characters that way (clicking on the characters one by one on an on-screen keyboard), but it's do-able. Then click done and all the streams will import. There's a video tutorial here. TVStreams has a free version (limited to 5 channels) that you can use to try it out. 

 

 





Geek girl. Freelance copywriter and editor at Unmistakable.

 

Currently using: Modified 2008 Mac Pro, HP M6-1017TX Laptop, iPad Pro, iPhone 6S, iPhone 5, AppleTV4, Minix Neo Z-64.




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  Reply # 1798749 12-Jun-2017 18:04
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Very helpful. Thanks again. We might actually have a Mac when the time comes, just not sure how new it would be. 

 

 





I reject your reality and substitute my own. - Adam Savage
 


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  Reply # 1798997 12-Jun-2017 21:49
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New's not important :) My Mac is 9 years old!




Geek girl. Freelance copywriter and editor at Unmistakable.

 

Currently using: Modified 2008 Mac Pro, HP M6-1017TX Laptop, iPad Pro, iPhone 6S, iPhone 5, AppleTV4, Minix Neo Z-64.


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