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90 posts

Master Geek


# 143567 19-Apr-2014 10:46
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My wife hates my home theater system, mainly because its complicated to get going and there are so many remotes involved (oh and its ugly apparently!), so its important for me to find a solution that is simple to use. I have just recently purchased the Logitech Harmony Smart Control universal remote to solve the too many remotes issue, and to make it simple to turn on the devices needed for each situation. I would highly recommend this remote. I ended up choosing a model that didn't have a touch screen, mostly because the last solution I had was constantly going flat and on the charger. 

I now want to add a media centre to the picture. I only have a few pre-req's:
1. Simple to use
2. Ability to store and stream music/videos from other PC's
3. Controllable from Windows Phone and iPhone
4. Decent audio quality (I understand digital will never be as good as analogue) 

I would like to avoid building a PC for the purpose if possible, and thought an Xbox 360 (or similar console) might do nicely.

What are peoples thoughts around this?



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  # 1027673 19-Apr-2014 10:48
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Got one of those?

Or a Roku with Plex.

None of those devices have much storage. If you want storage go with a custom built media PC or the NUC with a small file server on the network. Pretty impossible to get everything you listed there.

Cloud Guru
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  # 1027683 19-Apr-2014 11:32
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I love Windows Media Center on windows.

As a pc it can store all the files and back up to the cloud.
As a windows box it plays nice with any other windows box on the home network via homegroups. 
It can run freeview TV as a PVR with guide.
It can run Netflix right alongside freeview without having to change devices/remotes
You can play pretty much any format
You can use an xbox360 to get live or recorded TV in another room
With mediabrowser addin you can get a full fidelity metadata experience plus extend to WP, IOS, and android
works great with harmony remote
In the right box, looks like any other stereo kit (see Zelman box next to onkyo https://www.flickr.com/photos/nzregs/2314765699/in/set-72157601984672864 )

 

Downside - its basically discontinued. Still in Win8 but not being developed further.  But still worth using imo.



 
 
 
 


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  # 1027685 19-Apr-2014 11:45
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I won't elaborate on hardware, either a prebuilt unit such as the nuc's or a roku etc.

For software if using a PC of some form then MediaPortal if you want live tv eventually through the system OR XMBC if simply for movies etc.

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  # 1027686 19-Apr-2014 11:50
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I use a BRIX (Gigabyte box same form factor as the NUC) with 4GB RAM and 128GB mSATA SSD. All my content (50GB music, 24GB photos, 30GB home videos, 100GB iTunes movies) come from a network device (previously a NAS, currently a HP Microserver). Obviously being so little you can't have a TV card, so my live TV comes from a HDHomeRun (network device with TV tuner). Software is Windows 7 Media Centre.

Just got an Amazon FireTV and use that for Netflix, Hulu+ and stopped using Apple iTunes in favour of Amazon Instant Video.

If one day we have to replace our TV (non-Freeview) the new one will have built-in Freeview, in which case the HTPC might disappear and leave the Amazon FireTV to do everything but live TV.





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Ultimate Geek


  # 1027688 19-Apr-2014 11:54
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If you simply want to play locally stored media then its hard to beat XBMC, I'm partial to OpeELEC for its simplicity. I also use the Pulse-Eight CEC adapter to get around the too many remotes issue. I power on the HTPC and once it's booted it turns on the TV and changes to the correct AV input.

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  # 1027695 19-Apr-2014 12:02
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I had the same problem so purchased the following case which is low profile and sits nicely in our entrainment center. I have run xbmc since the beginning and I have it running with Maraschino (second pic) , The missus can just turn the media center on (one button) push one button on the remote to turn the tv over to the correct hdmi channel then she can control everything from her ipad via the web interface. Sorry for the large pic but is better to see this way.



http://img845.imageshack.us/img845/3152/jm1a.jpg







Ding Ding Ding Ding Ding : Ice cream man , Ice cream man


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  # 1027697 19-Apr-2014 12:17
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If you want a NAS, I got one i just dont use much anymore. Be good for movies :)
IDK what its worth $50??


 
 
 
 




90 posts

Master Geek


  # 1027734 19-Apr-2014 15:19
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Decisions decisions! Thanks for all your feedback :) So I am getting that a PC based option is best. I like the look of those small form factor devices and either media player or media portal as the software. Anyone using an Xbox 360 with Smartglass? Interested in how that might compare.

2566 posts

Uber Geek


  # 1027809 19-Apr-2014 18:02
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TimA: If you want a NAS, I got one i just dont use much anymore. Be good for movies :)
IDK what its worth $50??



Happy to take that NAS off your hands myself if the OP doesn't want to go that route... Currently using an ATV and parking my laptop on to the speaker to hardwire an HDMI link for local content :(

Looking for a neater route than having a tower next to my lounge TV!

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Ultimate Geek

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  # 1027812 19-Apr-2014 18:52
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I have been using a WDTV Live SMP for a while. Very simple interface. One remote, works like a modern table/phone in that it has an app store and caters for most needs. It's not a PC, but you can YouTube, FaceBook, stream almost anything and it plays all formats I've given it so far.

Simple small, USB storage or LAN/WiFi built in.

Buy it with a decent USB wireless keyboard for under $200 from most computer shops. I got mine form PBTech.

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  # 1027819 19-Apr-2014 18:55
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gundar: I have been using a WDTV Live SMP for a while. Very simple interface. One remote, works like a modern table/phone in that it has an app store and caters for most needs. It's not a PC, but you can YouTube, FaceBook, stream almost anything and it plays all formats I've given it so far.

Simple small, USB storage or LAN/WiFi built in.

Buy it with a decent USB wireless keyboard for under $200 from most computer shops. I got mine form PBTech.


Can it stream Netflix/Hulu etc too?



90 posts

Master Geek


  # 1027835 19-Apr-2014 19:40
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@PhantomNVD First in first served I say! A NAS would be nice to have, but I think all my money will be going into a PC and I cant have both :(

Cheers for the offer @TimA, appreciated.

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Ultimate Geek

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  # 1027882 19-Apr-2014 20:08
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PhantomNVD:
gundar: I have been using a WDTV Live SMP for a while. Very simple interface. One remote, works like a modern table/phone in that it has an app store and caters for most needs. It's not a PC, but you can YouTube, FaceBook, stream almost anything and it plays all formats I've given it so far.

Simple small, USB storage or LAN/WiFi built in.

Buy it with a decent USB wireless keyboard for under $200 from most computer shops. I got mine form PBTech.


Can it stream Netflix/Hulu etc too?


http://www.wdc.com/en/products/products.aspx?id=330

All the apps are listed here, the apps list seems to change with each software update. I don't use NetFlix or Hulu, but I'd say that you'd probably require a proxy service to make those work and probably have to do the firmware update with that proxy service to ensure you get the regional settings/applist.

40 posts

Geek


  # 1027888 19-Apr-2014 20:20
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I run Plex with a Chromecast in the lounge and bedroom, WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor) is high as she users her iPad to control it.  The only gripe is that there are no lock screen controls on iOS (due to Apple app regulations seemingly) my Nexus 7 on the other hand has lock screen controls.



468 posts

Ultimate Geek


  # 1040387 8-May-2014 21:53
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the look and operation of XBMC can be totally customised. i have changed a few things on mine to make it a bit better. you can even change the key mapping around,  and the graphics etc. i use a logitec 785 remote to change everything around E.G "watch tv" or "HTPC" changes all the channels amp etc around. so dam easy to use. xbmc can be totally controlled via a remote. you dont HAVE to have a mouse/keyboard

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