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Topic # 160207 28-Dec-2014 11:03
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I'm trying to sort through all of the noise on the internet to try and find myself the best option for an HTPC. I'm seeing a lot of indication pointing to Raspberry Pi, despite the fact that odroid has a lot of promising development as well, with superior specs in the way of processing power, but slightly less in GPU on some models.

I'm hoping people here will have a better grip on the results of using both, or provide some guidance on what would be best and why.


Essentially what my main intention is, is to have a Media Center (was looking at XBMC/Kodi), to play files from my network share, replacing my very dated, non-smart TV, UPNP functionality. 


My eventual intentions is to move away from my desktop, replacing it with a NAS, and maybe a laptop, removing my need to be tied to my desk. So I'm really hoping for a device that can do the transcoding (right word?) etc. on the device itself, rather than putting that processing onto the (eventual) NAS.

ANy ideas on what would be best? I heard that Raspberry Pi running XBMC is usually running at 100% CPU most of the time, making general navigation a little unpleasant, but on the other hand, RPi being better at playing 1080p content, than say Odroid.

I can pick up a complete Raspberry Pi kit for around $120, but just want to make sure it's the right choice.





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  Reply # 1204823 28-Dec-2014 11:07
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Buy an Intel NUC.

There great little devices.




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  Reply # 1204826 28-Dec-2014 11:29
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sdavisnz: Buy an Intel NUC.

There great little devices.


THanks for the reply - I did consider those, but the price is also significantly more, which puts it out of budget for this little project. 

I'm really wanting to stick to something like the RPi or Odroid or other similar type devices that have been tried and tested, but won't cost $300 to setup.






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  Reply # 1204837 28-Dec-2014 12:11
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I've been running a couple of Raspberry Pi's for a few years now and have never had any problems. I upgraded them to the new Model B+ recently but in all honesty haven't noticed any difference as they have always worked well. While a NUC is nice I just don't see the point.

On my old Model B Pi's I ran the OS from a USB stick rather than SD purely because that is what many people recommended. On the new B+'s I am running directly from SD and, like I said, no issues at all. I run Raspbmc on mine because it is dead simple to install and is still very familiar linux wise.

I have a VMware box that I run FreeNAS on to store all my content. I also run a Ubuntu VM on that to run MySQL for a shared database between the Pi's (very awesome for multiple TV's and not hard to set up - im no expert). Also on the Ubunutu VM I have SIckbeard and SABnzbd running to do the downloading of TV shows - could also add Couch Potato for movies. Ubuntu also runs a uTorrent server so I can download torrents (thats how i do movies) directly to the NAS without the need for another PC running.



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  Reply # 1204842 28-Dec-2014 12:19
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chevrolux: I've been running a couple of Raspberry Pi's for a few years now and have never had any problems. I upgraded them to the new Model B+ recently but in all honesty haven't noticed any difference as they have always worked well. While a NUC is nice I just don't see the point.

On my old Model B Pi's I ran the OS from a USB stick rather than SD purely because that is what many people recommended. On the new B+'s I am running directly from SD and, like I said, no issues at all. I run Raspbmc on mine because it is dead simple to install and is still very familiar linux wise.

I have a VMware box that I run FreeNAS on to store all my content. I also run a Ubuntu VM on that to run MySQL for a shared database between the Pi's (very awesome for multiple TV's and not hard to set up - im no expert). Also on the Ubunutu VM I have SIckbeard and SABnzbd running to do the downloading of TV shows - could also add Couch Potato for movies. Ubuntu also runs a uTorrent server so I can download torrents (thats how i do movies) directly to the NAS without the need for another PC running.


That does sound pretty good actually. and what's the experience with Playback of 1080p content both 30fps and 60fps? what about menu navigation? 

If you were to purchase another device to do the same task, would you go for another RPi? As an example, I see options like this floating around, and am curious if RPi is still the right choice these days?  
It does cost slightly more (~40ish), but is still well under the $300 mark. (130 odd USD).

I was looking at the Model B+ Kit if I went down the RPi track, and I have a couple of USB drives and SD cards laying around to try out.





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  Reply # 1204894 28-Dec-2014 13:37
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If you simply want a great XBMC experience I would go with a chromebox, it's around $208 NZD shipped from Amazon and comes with a 16GB ssd and 2GB ram which is plenty to run openelec. The box itself is very powerful, and the only downside I see to it is the lack of a remote and HDMI CEC.

My second recommendation would be a Fire TV ~$145 from eBay or around $130 from Amazon + youshop, you get all the major streaming apps as well as the ability to sideload android xbmc.

The raspberry pi is also still a valid option and will happily play any file that it can hardware decode, anything else that needs to be software decoded however will stump it and menus aren't as quick as other options but it is still cheaper.





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  Reply # 1204930 28-Dec-2014 14:23
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The Odroid's don't have the same level of support as the Raspberry Pi, but its likely the S805 in the C1 will get OpenELEC support. The best compromise at the moment is the Cubox-i, official OpenELEC support but a bit more expensive than an Oroid or RPI.

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  Reply # 1204949 28-Dec-2014 14:53
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That does sound pretty good actually. and what's the experience with Playback of 1080p content both 30fps and 60fps? what about menu navigation?


1080p 30fps is no sweat for the Pi. I'm not sure I have anything with a higher frame rate lol - I'm not that picky, as long as it looks good I'm happy.

The menu's aren't lightning fast but well fast enough to scroll through hundreds of TV shows quickly.

If you were to purchase another device to do the same task, would you go for another RPi? As an example, I see options like this floating around, and am curious if RPi is still the right choice these days?  
It does cost slightly more (~40ish), but is still well under the $300 mark. (130 odd USD).


I really like the Pi because I know exatly what it is going on with it. All those cheap Android boxes do something a little bit different. My Pi's have a standard Linux distro and I can screw with them as much as I want. They cost around $100NZD if you include the price of a decent USB power supply, case, sd card etc and I don't think there is anything that can beat that.

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  Reply # 1204989 28-Dec-2014 15:49
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i kinda "want" one of xbmc machines to die so i can justify buying one of these:

http://www.aliexpress.com/wholesale?catId=0&initiative_id=AS_20141227184844&SearchText=minix+neo+x8-h+plus


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  Reply # 1204993 28-Dec-2014 15:55
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I have a Raspberry Pi running the latest Raspbmc Kodi build.  It's great however I find it a little sluggish at browsing network shares.  Not like the old Windows Media Centre I had which presumable cached the network shares locally for browsing purposes.  If I go up or down the folder tree it's a bit slow to respond, maybe 2-3 seconds to change each folder.  Aside from that it's never skipped a beat with streaming anything from dirty old Xvid up to 15GB MKV's.  I haven't tried it with a good sound system though as I don't have an amp - it's just connected by stereo to my Logitech speakers....so I can't comment on the audio aspect other than to say stereo works fine.

It's a very quick, simple, and lightweight system to set up and keep running - both hardware and software.  In fact you'd never know it's there as it's stuck to the back of my TV with double sided tape and I control it using my Sony TV's remote CEC.  For the price I recommend Raspberry Pi wherever the use case matches mine - streaming from a file share to a TV and running XBMC/Kodi as the interface.  



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  Reply # 1204998 28-Dec-2014 16:01
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driller2000: i kinda "want" one of xbmc machines to die so i can justify buying one of these:
http://www.aliexpress.com/wholesale?catId=0&initiative_id=AS_20141227184844&SearchText=minix+neo+x8-h+plus


Thats the one I linked to above :) It's definitely tempting... I think realistically I'm stuck between the Pi and that. The review of the Minix X8H Plus is actually not too bad, and looks like its a very capable device. Plus if you buy from Aliexpress, it comes with the free M1 remote as well, which is a nice bonus. 

chevrolux: 1080p 30fps is no sweat for the Pi. I'm not sure I have anything with a higher frame rate lol - I'm not that picky, as long as it looks good I'm happy.

The menu's aren't lightning fast but well fast enough to scroll through hundreds of TV shows quickly.

If you were to purchase another device to do the same task, would you go for another RPi? As an example, I see options like this floating around, and am curious if RPi is still the right choice these days?  
It does cost slightly more (~40ish), but is still well under the $300 mark. (130 odd USD).


I really like the Pi because I know exatly what it is going on with it. All those cheap Android boxes do something a little bit different. My Pi's have a standard Linux distro and I can screw with them as much as I want. They cost around $100NZD if you include the price of a decent USB power supply, case, sd card etc and I don't think there is anything that can beat that.



Yeah, plus the fact it can be re-purposed for other things (i.e. web server as well as countless other things) is also a benefit. Knowing me, I'd probably end up buying two! one as a HTPC and the other just to play around with.

PANiCnz: The Odroid's don't have the same level of support as the Raspberry Pi, but its likely the S805 in the C1 will get OpenELEC support. The best compromise at the moment is the Cubox-i, official OpenELEC support but a bit more expensive than an Oroid or RPI.


Good point... Might put the ODroid on the back burner, given the other options mentioned here.

HowickDota: If you simply want a great XBMC experience I would go with a chromebox, it's around $208 NZD shipped from Amazon and comes with a 16GB ssd and 2GB ram which is plenty to run openelec. The box itself is very powerful, and the only downside I see to it is the lack of a remote and HDMI CEC.

My second recommendation would be a Fire TV ~$145 from eBay or around $130 from Amazon + youshop, you get all the major streaming apps as well as the ability to sideload android xbmc.

The raspberry pi is also still a valid option and will happily play any file that it can hardware decode, anything else that needs to be software decoded however will stump it and menus aren't as quick as other options but it is still cheaper.


THanks, I'll take a look. Does the ChromeBox support HDMI-CEC?? I can't see much which points to where it does or not.


gehenna: I have a Raspberry Pi running the latest Raspbmc Kodi build.  It's great however I find it a little sluggish at browsing network shares.  Not like the old Windows Media Centre I had which presumable cached the network shares locally for browsing purposes.  If I go up or down the folder tree it's a bit slow to respond, maybe 2-3 seconds to change each folder.  Aside from that it's never skipped a beat with streaming anything from dirty old Xvid up to 15GB MKV's.  I haven't tried it with a good sound system though as I don't have an amp - it's just connected by stereo to my Logitech speakers....so I can't comment on the audio aspect other than to say stereo works fine.

It's a very quick, simple, and lightweight system to set up and keep running - both hardware and software.  In fact you'd never know it's there as it's stuck to the back of my TV with double sided tape and I control it using my Sony TV's remote CEC.  For the price I recommend Raspberry Pi wherever the use case matches mine - streaming from a file share to a TV and running XBMC/Kodi as the interface.  


Yeah, I XBMC has always suffered a bit when it comes to network shares, even on the Apple TV, so that won't be anything new. 

I just bought a new sound system a couple of days ago - nothing fancy, but I'm wondering if I'm going to be missing out by having the Audio going Media Player > TV > Optical cable to Sound system, rather than;
Media Player > Optical cable to sound system, given the lack of Optical port on RPi?

I'm new to the whole Optical port bizzo, haven't used it before.







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  Reply # 1205011 28-Dec-2014 16:08
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If you're willing to spend ~ USD $159 on the MINIX NEO X8-H Plus I personally recommend a chromebox, since its an X86 chip you'll have a lot less software issues.



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  Reply # 1205013 28-Dec-2014 16:11
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PANiCnz: If you're willing to spend ~ USD $159 on the MINIX NEO X8-H Plus I personally recommend a chromebox, since its an X86 chip you'll have a lot less software issues.


Can you qualify by what you mean "Less software issues"? 
Am curious what issues I'd be running into that would push me towards the ChromeBox over the Minix?

Also, when you say ChromeBox, are you talking about the HP one or the Asus one? I didn't realize there were two different ones.





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  Reply # 1205017 28-Dec-2014 16:15
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With the Chinese ARM boxes you'll need to run Kodi/XBMC on top of Android, I'd personally run a Linux based operating system such as OpenELEC. Given very few of the Chinese ARM chip manufactures provide open source support your only OS choice is Android.

Since the Chromebox's all just use an Intel chip they can run whatever OS you throw at them, Windows, Linux etc. Most of the large PC manufacturers make Chromeboxes, HP, Dell, Acer etc. They all use the same CPU and are much of a muchness, the Acer is normally the cheapest.

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  Reply # 1205018 28-Dec-2014 16:15
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I really like the Pi because I know exatly what it is going on with it. All those cheap Android boxes do something a little bit different. My Pi's have a standard Linux distro and I can screw with them as much as I want. They cost around $100NZD if you include the price of a decent USB power supply, case, sd card etc and I don't think there is anything that can beat that.


I recently ordered a Pi from Aliexpress. About $36.65 usd and came with a case and heat sink too, only ordered yesterday, haven't received it yet. Yes there is no NZ warranty and CGA and stuff like that, But I don't really wanna pay the $15 extra to get one in NZ without a case etc, Ill just hooe nothing goes wrong haha

Can also get cheap sd cards and usb power supplies there, but can just use an old phone charger, Or if the tv has a USB port power it from that :D

In total I ordered:
Pi + Case + Heatsinks $36.65 usd
7 port powered USB Hub + EU AC adapter $5.95
5pc EU to NZ power plug adapter for the USB hub $3.88 (could use these for other things too)
2m HDMI Cable $2.68
HDMI to VGA $6.86
USB Wifi $5.75
8gb Micro SD + SD Adapter and USB reader $3.99

Once of the items had about 30 cents for shipping.

Total price was $66 usd for everything

Think it ended up being $90 NZD



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  Reply # 1205047 28-Dec-2014 17:22
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THanks, I'll take a look. Does the ChromeBox support HDMI-CEC?? I can't see much which points to where it does or not.


The Chromebox does not support HDMI-CEC





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