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Topic # 192232 2-Mar-2016 14:01
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My much loved HTPC died last night. Half way through a movie it lost sound, video, ir remote, everything. It wouldn't turn off with the power button either and after talking it apart today it wont even beep at me when out of the case with nothing attached to it. I'm assuming it's either the motherboard or cpu which is dead.

 

It's been rock solid since I built it in 2008 and I'm a little sad to be honest !

 

However in the last couple of years it's ceased to be our one-stop shop. Whilst the kids like to watch the movies for old times sake and my wife still records and watches Coro St, if we are serious about watching something (read if I am available) we either use Netflix from my phone through the Chromecast or BBC on the Samsung TV itself. Neither are ideal because they need me to be there and they use the crappy tv speakers.

 

In the interim I've set up Plex on the server in the garage and have set up both Plex and Netflix NZ on the Xbox we haven't used in about 18 months. Plex also works well on our Chromebooks so that should keep them going until I sort something out.

 

But what to replace it with ? I need something simple because whilst two of the kids are great, the other and my wife are complete technophobes and I'd prefer to not be using different apps on different devices if I can help it.

 

I wouldn't dare think of using anything other than an htpc in the past but are they still the only serious option ? My amp doesn't have HDMI in and so I probably need to look at that as well.

 

Is it possible to have one device which can access TVNZ on demand, with BBC and Netflix in the UK ?


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  Reply # 1504973 2-Mar-2016 14:09
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Sure there is!  I am in a similar position - having used a HTPC for many years (originally hooked up to Sky via composite in!).  Now I am moving away from that and find the Apple TV 4 is the best option - however you have to be careful with the software you use for playback.

If you have lots of movie backups, be ware that most 'boxes' (apple tv, chromecast, fire tv, etc.) are limited in their ability to play back DTS.  DD doesn't seem to be a problem, but DTS is (I assume its a licensing issue).  However I have found that FireCore from the App Store works with DTS as they have purchased a license, meaning DTS encoded titles play back properly.  More info here - http://firecore.com/blog/13592 

I have used FireCore extensively on my iPad, using AirPlay to my Apple TV 3, and it works great (except you cannot AirPlay DTS).

If you want broadcast TV, get the "Channels" app that works with HDHomeRun devices (https://www.silicondust.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=125&t=28426&start=495 )

And of course you can have BBC, NetFlix, Hulu, SlingTV, etc. etc.


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  Reply # 1504982 2-Mar-2016 14:29
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Having done what you are now contemplating.....moving form a HTPC based system to potentially a device baseed.

 

I dived head long into plex, and primarily use a roku for access to it (but I also have an apple tv3 working with plex, the plex IOS clients).

 

 

 

This handles a fair chunk of media access and some channels.  For live tv - we don't watch it a lot, but our tv does DVB-T.  We have a 2nd that does not, but I have a nextpvr channel for plex (that accesses a HDHomeRun - but it could be any tuner connected to a pc, the homerun allows it to be a virtual machine though).  This also has basic recordings access.  But recently I've also made a scanner for plex, so that recordings can be loaded into plex as a library item.  This allows for better skipping, and media deletion.

 

 

 

For scheduling I just use the nextpvr web site.





Previously known as psycik

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Gigabyte AMD A8 Brix --> Samsung LA46A650D via HDMI, NextPVR,OpenHAB with Aeotech ZWave Controller
Media:Chromecast v2, ATV4, Roku3, Raspberry PI temperature Sensors and Bluetooth LE Sensors,HDHomeRun Dual
Windows 2012 
Host (Plex Server/Crashplan): 2x2TB, 2x3TB, 1x4TB using DriveBender, Samsung 850 evo 512 GB SSD, Hyper-V Server with 1xW10, 1xW2k8, 2xUbuntu 16.04 LTS, Crashplan, NextPVR channel for Plex,NextPVR Metadata Agent and Scanner for Plex


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  Reply # 1505064 2-Mar-2016 16:28
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Another vote for Apple TV4 - it does plenty of what you're after, but not TVNZ On Demand... yet. Rumour has it (via someone on the forums who asked them) that they're working on an app. But you can have Netflix, Hulu, BBC and even Plex on it. TVNZ On Demand, 4OD, and Fanpass would make it a complete solution for me.

 

If you still need a PC but are not keen on laying out a lot of money, there's always something like the Minix Neo Z64 Windows PC. I got one about a year ago and it was around $230 including shipping. I've since upgraded it to Windows 10. Same general size as an Apple TV. I've paired it with a wireless media keyboard to drive it from the couch. I've loaded Plex Home Theatre onto that (free client) and it's what I normally use for TVNZ On Demand. I use the Apple TV for everything else, either with the native apps or via Airplay. It's almost replaced broadcast TV for me, because I used to mainly watch The Living Channel (love those renovation shows) and those are all on demand at Channel 4 UK, which I can airplay. Currently working my way through 20 seasons of Location, Location, Location :o)





Geek girl. Freelance copywriter and editor at Unmistakable.

 

Currently using: Modified 2008 Mac Pro, HP M6-1017TX Laptop, iPad Pro, iPhone 7, iPhone 6S, AppleTV4.


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  Reply # 1505094 2-Mar-2016 17:40
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I use plex in the house for my movie backups, beats finding a DVD and putting it in the machine.
My Sony TV upstairs isn't smart , load plex on a raspberry (rasplex I think)....works like magic. Can even use the same TV remote to browse plex(without and third party hardware) which is super awesome!!!




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  Reply # 1517746 22-Mar-2016 16:02
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I would say Raspberry PI, I've got one set up to run XBMC and haven't run into any major issues, plus the new PI 3 is out now so thats even better than the 2 i'm running. You can also get plex on it I think


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  Reply # 1517754 22-Mar-2016 16:15
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There should be a way to get the TV's audio to your sound system, either through optical, coax, or HDMI ARC




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  Reply # 1518275 23-Mar-2016 11:09
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I tried a PI years ago but wasn't impressed enough to bin the HTPC. I would also need to put the DVB-S card into something else to get freeview and that would mean moving the dish to the garage where the server is.

 

So far the Xbox has been working a treat. It takes a while to start up but both Netflix and Plex work really well. Until last night that is when Netflix started giving a UI-122 error.

 

Otherwise I just cast Netflix from my N5. It's so good I've been seriously considering just leaving a tablet on the couch for the kids to use.




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  Reply # 1520418 27-Mar-2016 16:04
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I've finally had some time to look into this and it's doing my head in.

 

I can rebuild the HTPC for about $300 with new mb/cpu/ram and it puts us back to a known situation. The kids would be happy, the wife would be happy, but it's not the future when it comes to streaming content.

 

I've found Plex to be pretty good. But we have no need to stream to multiple devices/rooms, and I prefer the functionality my previous Mediaportal setup offered.

 

The Apple tv4 looks good, but it would be set to the UK and it's unlikely to then have access to any future tvnz on demand app. It leaves me with no DVB-S solution (I could get a cheap PVR) and I don't think it has an Amazon app either.

 

The Xbox360 changes I made worked until last night ("you appear to be using a DNS blocker") but it doesn't do 1080p, nor BBC iplayer, and it's pain to have to press so many buttons to get to Plex when you just want to watch a movie.

 

The Chromecast is great for streaming and works really well from my Nexus5 with Netflix NZ. I could easily teach the family to stream from their phones, but there is so little we want to watch on Netflix NZ it's not wrth the hassle. Plus there is no tvnz ondemand app for android.

 

So after however many years it's been since I built it, re-building the HTPC appears to be the only real option given our need to access DVB-S and not wanting too many devices linked to different regions. It would do the dvb-s with a great epg and provides both Moving Pictures and TV Series. I wont be streaming but it's an all-in-one solution which the family can use easily.

 

I would honestly pay Sky subscription amounts of money to have access to UK programming, I really would.




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  Reply # 1520442 27-Mar-2016 16:10
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Hold on a minute, I've just read the AppleTV4 can load apps from different regions and as long as you have a 'smart DNS' it will handle the different regions for you. 

 

Is that correct ?

 

It might be the answer after all if that's the case....at least once there is a tvnz on demand app


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  Reply # 1520476 27-Mar-2016 17:47
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martyyn:

 

Hold on a minute, I've just read the AppleTV4 can load apps from different regions and as long as you have a 'smart DNS' it will handle the different regions for you. 

 

Is that correct ?

 

It might be the answer after all if that's the case....at least once there is a tvnz on demand app

 

 

That is correct. I currently have Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Australia Channel 10 and NZ TV3Now all sitting side by side on my home screen, and they all work without changing the region on the AppleTV, which is set to NZ so that the weather data is correct. You just need iTunes accounts in the relevant countries to download the apps, but you can have your AppleTV set to any region and they will still all work, assuming you have a DNS service that unblocks the content of those apps.

 

While my ATV is set to NZ region, my iTunes account is currently set to US so that I can use the Siri functionality. It's super easy to flick from one iTunes account to another, as well. Once you've loaded them in they sit there in a list and you can just scroll between them if you need to download an app from one of the stores.

 

All I need now in terms of native apps is TVNZ OnDemand, All4, and Fanpass and that will cover all the channels I currently use. I can Airplay All4 and Fanpass but it just cuts out an extra step to run it directly on the AppleTV.





Geek girl. Freelance copywriter and editor at Unmistakable.

 

Currently using: Modified 2008 Mac Pro, HP M6-1017TX Laptop, iPad Pro, iPhone 7, iPhone 6S, AppleTV4.




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  Reply # 1520482 27-Mar-2016 18:14
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littleheaven:

 

 

 

That is correct. I currently have Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Australia Channel 10 and NZ TV3Now all sitting side by side on my home screen, and they all work without changing the region on the AppleTV, which is set to NZ so that the weather data is correct. You just need iTunes accounts in the relevant countries to download the apps, but you can have your AppleTV set to any region and they will still all work, assuming you have a DNS service that unblocks the content of those apps.

 

While my ATV is set to NZ region, my iTunes account is currently set to US so that I can use the Siri functionality. It's super easy to flick from one iTunes account to another, as well. Once you've loaded them in they sit there in a list and you can just scroll between them if you need to download an app from one of the stores.

 

All I need now in terms of native apps is TVNZ OnDemand, All4, and Fanpass and that will cover all the channels I currently use. I can Airplay All4 and Fanpass but it just cuts out an extra step to run it directly on the AppleTV.

 

 

Brilliant, thanks for that. Sounds like it solves all the problems. Who are you using for DNS ? There are no problems currently ?

 

Wife has just admitted she could live without Coro !

 

 


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  Reply # 1520489 27-Mar-2016 18:28
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"but it's not the future when it comes to streaming content."

Surely an HTPC can stream anything you want?




HTPC: Antec NSK2480B case, AMD A4-5300 CPU, Asus F2A85-M LE mobo, WD Caviar Green 64Mb 2TB HDD, HD Homerun, Win7 Home Premium, RAM 1600Mhz 4Gb.
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  Reply # 1520535 27-Mar-2016 19:57
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martyyn:

Brilliant, thanks for that. Sounds like it solves all the problems. Who are you using for DNS ? There are no problems currently ?


Wife has just admitted she could live without Coro !


 



I use UnoTelly and so far no issues with any service, although I can't promise you'll find the same. Others have had varying degrees of success so I encourage you to take advantage of the free trials of a few different providers to see what works best for you. I really love my Apple TV but I also have a little $230 Minix Windows box to fill the gaps. I can't wait to have it all one one device.




Geek girl. Freelance copywriter and editor at Unmistakable.

 

Currently using: Modified 2008 Mac Pro, HP M6-1017TX Laptop, iPad Pro, iPhone 7, iPhone 6S, AppleTV4.




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  Reply # 1520540 27-Mar-2016 20:13
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turb: "but it's not the future when it comes to streaming content."

Surely an HTPC can stream anything you want?

 

Sorry, what I meant was there is no easy solution to rival an app on a tablet or similar. The last time I tried Online Videos with Mediaportal it was flaky at best and a real struggle to get around the GUI to find what you wanted.

 

I'm over sitting in front of the tv, going into the desktop, getting what I want in a browser and going full screen or whatever. I just want to start a device which then allows me to go into whatever 'app' I want and displays everything in an easy to navigate way. 


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  Reply # 1520543 27-Mar-2016 20:22
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Is it an either/or choice?

 

For only $300 I would personally rebuild the HTPC. Particularly as you say you would like DVB-S etc. $300 is pretty cheap if the whole family will get use out of it for several years.

 

I'm not sure why it needs to stream to multiple clients, given that you say you already have a server with Plex to do that?

 

I would have thought that you could keep the HTPC purely for recording content, and run with some clients like the ATV (or WD TV, or Roku, or Android box, or mini PC like the ASRock Beebox, etc as your preference takes you) to handle playback.

 

So the HTPC handles recording, and maybe playback in the main room depending on how powerful it is. The server stores and serves up content. Media players (ATVs or whatever you fancy) handle streaming from online services and the server in as many locations as you want.

 

That is similar to what my setup will be when I finally finish it. I have purchased pretty much all the kit, I just need to find the time/motivation to finish putting it together and configuring it. Except I will have a DVB-T tuner and a hookup to the Sky box to grab content into the HTPC.


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