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Topic # 195158 8-Apr-2016 11:41
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I've been thinking (procrastinating) for a while about building a very simple HTPC for streaming. 

 

But I'm starting to wonder if such a device is or will soon be obsolete?

 

I realise this is at the very lower end for an HTPC and overlooks recording, gaming etc.

 

With the increasing ability to cast streamed content or use in-TV apps (Netflix, Lightbox etc) would I be wasting my money?

 

Am I better to invest in a net-connected TV?

 

 





Mike

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  Reply # 1528316 8-Apr-2016 11:56
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Do you mean an HTPC or a streaming box like a roku?

 

Rokus and their like will always be much easier to replace than an entire TV - I can stomach 1-200 every 2-3 years as tech improves.

 

I won't be replacing my TV every 2 years thanks. Software quality on TVs has improved but it still has a LONG way to go.


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  Reply # 1528323 8-Apr-2016 12:06
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An HTPC for streaming is a pain in the butt IMO, you can't drive it with a remote for one. I also see casting as a poor man's route to streaming as well.

 

For ultimate usability for streaming and the largest library of streaming services you can't go past a set top box i.e. Roku, FireTV, Apple TV.





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  Reply # 1528324 8-Apr-2016 12:06
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The apps on Smart TVs appear to be having quite a short lifespan before the TV manufacturers stop supporting them. Cynically you could see the manufacturers using obsolete apps as another way of forcing people to upgrade their TVs more frequently. "Oh dear - better by a new TV because Youtube doesnt work now".

 

I would have thought a separate streaming box is more useful than ever if you dont want to chuck the TV out and replace every 2 years or so.





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  Reply # 1528368 8-Apr-2016 12:34
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Yeah I'd choose a dedicated device (pick your battles here though, you'll never get one that does all the sites you would hope), then a HTPC - (agree with geekiegeek - annoying ), then a chromecast (I like remotes too much) over a smart tv.  

 

Things are too fluid to rely on the generosity of tv manufacturers to continue to support sites and to keep up when them.  Also if you're shellng out a couple of thousand on a tv, you'd be pissed (if you bought it for smark features) if they'd been dropped from support in 2 years.

 

 





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  Reply # 1528370 8-Apr-2016 12:35
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My personal thoughts are the best combo is a raspberry pi for locally stored content and then a chromecast for all internet content. All the decent streaming sites support chromecast now and for $40 (or whatever they are now) you really cant go wrong!


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  Reply # 1528408 8-Apr-2016 13:09
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chevrolux:

 

My personal thoughts are the best combo is a raspberry pi for locally stored content and then a chromecast for all internet content. All the decent streaming sites support chromecast now and for $40 (or whatever they are now) you really cant go wrong!

 

 

 

 

Roku + Server/PC/NAS running Plex.

 

Roku does Netflix, Plex Client, Livestream (NRL), Youtube etc etc etc

 

 


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  Reply # 1528419 8-Apr-2016 13:20
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No, I have a HTPC and Chromecast connected to my "smart" tv


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  Reply # 1528489 8-Apr-2016 14:35
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If Sky's FanPass and TVNZ OnDemand were on the new AppleTV, it would be hard to go past it as the only device I'd need. And, you could be reasonably sure they'd keep it up to date. HTPC - very little WAF, no remote, quite expensive to make Wife Friendly and Remote controlled. Chromecast - pretty good option for Streaming, but needs phone/tablet/PC to cast from.




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  Reply # 1528505 8-Apr-2016 14:58
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To be more accurate I'm toying with the idea of a streaming PC box.

 

Either building one from a spare Intel Atom Netbook I have (1080 capable graphics chip, Windows and XBMC) and an old audio enclosure or using a NUC.  I can handle the remote side of things with a wireless keyboard or maybe programme custom IR  codes into my harmony.

 

 

 

 





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  Reply # 1528507 8-Apr-2016 15:01
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wasabi2k:

 

Roku + Server/PC/NAS running Plex.

 

Roku does Netflix, Plex Client, Livestream (NRL), Youtube etc etc etc

 

 

 

 

Yup I am doing exactly the same, but complementing a change from Roku to Apple TV v4. if only TVNZ Ondemand would work on the ATV.

 

 

 

 


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  Reply # 1528508 8-Apr-2016 15:02
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I have a Sony smart TV and I had a Chromecast for awhile. I found both to be worse than useless. The Sony was so crippled that I just disconnected it from the Internet and carried on using it as a monitor. The Chromecast was even worse, with constant stuttering and freezing. To be fair, this might have been related to my Internet, which was only 3G RBI at the time, but whatever the reason, I found it unusable and gave it away in a charity auction. 

 

I tried a mini-pc for awhile, but it was too underpowered for streams that required a lot of processing. Someone gave me an old duo core Presario and that was much better after I added an HDMI card and some RAM. Since then I have continued to build on that PC. It works fine, but navigation from the couch is always a pain and I have made judicious use of keyboard shortcuts and macros to improve this. It is a continuing work in progress, but I prefer it over any other solution. The browser is best for switching between many web sites. I also have a DNS switcher on the computer rather than the router, which gives me very useful flexibility, especially with the current Netflix wars going on.

 

The statement about the computer not being controllable with a remote is not correct. There are different solutions for this. Mine was to take a cheap generic IR remote, put the database into my Harmony One, and use AnyHotKey to generate whatever macros are required to operate the computer. The Harmony generates keypresses the IR receiver understands and AHK turns them into the functions I need. It works pretty well.

 

I am still improving this and looking for a good 10-foot browser, but overall it works pretty well, especially with the menu functions I have added. I have also tried various media centres but I have found nothing that does what I want as well as what I have already created. The Harmony works perfectly with the mouse and the many keyboard shortcuts and other functions in the menus give me pretty good control. I have a second wireless remote in the form of an air mouse that I use when I have to type something since the virtual keyboard is a pain to use. I also have a notebook behind the couch that I can control the streaming computer with but I haven't needed to use it for some time.

 

I can't claim this is the best solution ever, but it works for me and I prefer it. The main advantage of a PC-based solution is that it gives maximum flexibility and I put a lot of value on that.

 

 





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


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  Reply # 1528510 8-Apr-2016 15:05
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MikeAqua:

 

I've been thinking (procrastinating) for a while about building a very simple HTPC for streaming. 

 

But I'm starting to wonder if such a device is or will soon be obsolete?

 

I realise this is at the very lower end for an HTPC and overlooks recording, gaming etc.

 

With the increasing ability to cast streamed content or use in-TV apps (Netflix, Lightbox etc) would I be wasting my money?

 

Am I better to invest in a net-connected TV?

 

 

 



I'll answer this from a different angle (and I assume when you say streaming you mean local files from a NAS/HDD/etc).  If you are happy with the content you can get from online services, bearing in mind Netflix is cracking down on the likes of DNS blockers and VPN's and Hulu now needs a USA credit card to register, then yes, its a waste of time.  Get an Apple TV, even the previous Version 3, and consume away (substitute Apple TV with any other device you like)

However if you find (like me) that the content made available to users in NZ is piss poor compared to what's on offer overseas, and you can get this content otherwise (Amazon Blu-rays/DVDs, torrents, usenet, friends with collections, etc) then no, its not a ware of time.  A HTPC is still the single best way to consume local content.  Every other option has some limitation, and there are multiple options in the HTPC software space from Plex (consume on almost any device) to Kodi (install and run) to JRiver where you can extract maximum video and sound quality.

Personally I am moving from the online services back to local content as the moves made by Netflix take a LOT of the WAF factor out of devices like Roku's, Apple TV's, etc.  My current plans are either Apple TV 4 running InFuse for local content (only downside is the scrapping is done on the client, which can mean a delay getting that information when browsing folders, and the DTS/DD debacle of Apple's making); or finishing my NUC and running Kodi.


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  Reply # 1528536 8-Apr-2016 15:37
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Rikkitic:

 

I have a Sony smart TV and I had a Chromecast for awhile. I found both to be worse than useless. The Sony was so crippled that I just disconnected it from the Internet and carried on using it as a monitor. The Chromecast was even worse, with constant stuttering and freezing. To be fair, this might have been related to my Internet, which was only 3G RBI at the time, but whatever the reason, I found it unusable and gave it away in a charity auction. 

 

I tried a mini-pc for awhile, but it was too underpowered for streams that required a lot of processing. Someone gave me an old duo core Presario and that was much better after I added an HDMI card and some RAM. Since then I have continued to build on that PC. It works fine, but navigation from the couch is always a pain and I have made judicious use of keyboard shortcuts and macros to improve this. It is a continuing work in progress, but I prefer it over any other solution. The browser is best for switching between many web sites. I also have a DNS switcher on the computer rather than the router, which gives me very useful flexibility, especially with the current Netflix wars going on.

 

The statement about the computer not being controllable with a remote is not correct. There are different solutions for this. Mine was to take a cheap generic IR remote, put the database into my Harmony One, and use AnyHotKey to generate whatever macros are required to operate the computer. The Harmony generates keypresses the IR receiver understands and AHK turns them into the functions I need. It works pretty well.

 

I am still improving this and looking for a good 10-foot browser, but overall it works pretty well, especially with the menu functions I have added. I have also tried various media centres but I have found nothing that does what I want as well as what I have already created. The Harmony works perfectly with the mouse and the many keyboard shortcuts and other functions in the menus give me pretty good control. I have a second wireless remote in the form of an air mouse that I use when I have to type something since the virtual keyboard is a pain to use. I also have a notebook behind the couch that I can control the streaming computer with but I haven't needed to use it for some time.

 

I can't claim this is the best solution ever, but it works for me and I prefer it. The main advantage of a PC-based solution is that it gives maximum flexibility and I put a lot of value on that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perhaps needs to go to a new topic, but how do you control browser navigation (say of TVNZ ondemand) with keyboard commands/a remote.

 

 

 

As for 10 foot interface, kylo used to be designed for this - but it's been dropped as a project - or made open source at least.  It had nice big icons for each web site, and large fonts.  I can't remember what browser it was based on though, either FF or IE.

 

 





Previously known as psycik

NextPVR: 
Gigabyte AMD A8 Brix --> Samsung LA46A650D via HDMI, NextPVR,
OpenHAB: ODroid C2 eMMC DriveOpenHAB with Aeotech ZWave Controller, Raspberry PI, Wemos D1 Mini, Zwave and Bluetooth LE Sensors
Media:Chromecast v2, ATV4, Roku3, 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 # 1528552 8-Apr-2016 15:58
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davidcole:

 

 

 

 

 

Perhaps needs to go to a new topic, but how do you control browser navigation (say of TVNZ ondemand) with keyboard commands/a remote.

 

 

 

As for 10 foot interface, kylo used to be designed for this - but it's been dropped as a project - or made open source at least.  It had nice big icons for each web site, and large fonts.  I can't remember what browser it was based on though, either FF or IE.

 

 

 

 

The Harmony works very well as a mouse. The original remote had a joystick that moved diagonally as well as the other directions. This almost perfectly fits the number pad at the bottom of the Harmony, so I just programmed the keys to move the mouse in the right direction, and programmed the two left over keys to do the left and right click. Very intuitive and very easy to use. I also use mouse macros and shortcuts to jump to different parts of the screen and I have a menu button programmed as the third mouse button for scrolling. I have to admit, though, that I have never tried it with TVNZ ondemand. There is just nothing on NZ TV that I feel like demanding. Everything I want to watch I get from overseas without the commercials.

 

 

 

I tried Kylo but didn't like it. Still looking for something better with the same idea.

 

 





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


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  Reply # 1528653 8-Apr-2016 18:42
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This article from Stuff is pertinent to the discussion: Why aren't smart TVs very clever?
http://www.stuff.co.nz/technology/gadgets/75677958/Why-aren-t-smart-TVs-very-clever?cid=app-iPad




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