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92 posts

Master Geek


Topic # 91787 20-Oct-2011 11:01
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Hi guys thinking of starting my first HTPC build. We already have mysky at home and am not that interested in freeview. I'm just after a PC that i can plug into my receiver via HDMI that would play all of my content (mainly .avi's). 
I would likely plug a few externals into the HTPC to handle the bulk of the strage as well as a smaller internal hard drive for the OS. (i like to take my externals with me on trips)
I would also like to be able to transfer files to and from the HTPC wirelessly at a reasonable speed.

Any ideas on the OS/setup that would work simply and easy to setup. I was thinking XBMC.

Also the specs that would be required i would even appreciate component advice.

Thanks in advance. 

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  Reply # 535568 20-Oct-2011 12:31
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Is your HTPC going to be your storage as well?

You've almost described a jailbroken ATV2 with XBMC on it. Any other features you want that would require a PC, like browsing? BluRay etc?




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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Master Geek


  Reply # 535582 20-Oct-2011 13:03
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davidcole: Is your HTPC going to be your storage as well?

You've almost described a jailbroken ATV2 with XBMC on it. Any other features you want that would require a PC, like browsing? BluRay etc?


No browsing needs. If i had access to a browser i wouldn't complain but i don't think it is a compulsory part of my set up.

I have my ps3 for BluRays but it would be good if i could stream 1080p content if required although it would not be a common occurance.

 



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Master Geek


  Reply # 535584 20-Oct-2011 13:05
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davidcole: Is your HTPC going to be your storage as well?

You've almost described a jailbroken ATV2 with XBMC on it. Any other features you want that would require a PC, like browsing? BluRay etc?


Storage attached in the form of external hard drives.  

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  Reply # 535591 20-Oct-2011 13:28
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Yeah the attached I think eliminates the ATV2.

Also I think XBMC will generally hate it unless they're permanent, as it uses a DB for storing the video filess....it wont like it if they're missing.




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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Master Geek


  Reply # 535615 20-Oct-2011 14:22
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davidcole: Yeah the attached I think eliminates the ATV2.

Also I think XBMC will generally hate it unless they're permanent, as it uses a DB for storing the video filess....it wont like it if they're missing.


So what do you think my options from here are?

 

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  Reply # 535629 20-Oct-2011 14:59
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Just a regular media player. Doesn't look as pretty as xbmc, but gives you a basic file system browser.

Something like a AC Ryan Playon, WD TV, Popcorn hour etc. There's also variants by Dlink, netgear, seagate you name it.

The WD TV is the most readily available and well priced (from DSE) the other two normally have to be sourced online, but are much more capable in terms of media formats.

Or continue with a low power PC and use Media Portal of GBPVR (npvr). I think media portal must have a file browser for videos, I know gbpvr does.




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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Master Geek
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  Reply # 535972 21-Oct-2011 08:50
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A few options:

WD Live: easy to use, average price, does 1080p, will takes 2 usb drives - I normally get these for family and friends.

Popcorn Hour A110 - more expensive, menus are very sluggish, crashes rather frequently. I'm trialling replacing mine with an ATV2

Apple TV2 - I just got one of these and put xbmc on it, pretty impressed with it considering price. Has hardware acceleration for h264 content so will play 1080p without stutter but output downscaled to 720p. Also the DB is stored on the ATV2 so no issue there. It does not have usb ports so need network attached storage.

HTPC - you can build a very good pc with integrated hdmi, etc for bugger all these days, run linux and xbmc or mediaportal to keep costs down. I built mine with a low power amd chip and all in one motherboard over 3 years ago and it has never missed a beat.

The upside to the smaller media players is they are fanless so I tend to have one in the bedroom where quiet operation is key. In the lounge a full on htpc is just more flexible (think justin.tv or myp2p.eu if you wanted to watch sport but don't have sky).



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Master Geek


  Reply # 535976 21-Oct-2011 09:06
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shall0w: A few options:

WD Live: easy to use, average price, does 1080p, will takes 2 usb drives - I normally get these for family and friends.

Popcorn Hour A110 - more expensive, menus are very sluggish, crashes rather frequently. I'm trialling replacing mine with an ATV2

Apple TV2 - I just got one of these and put xbmc on it, pretty impressed with it considering price. Has hardware acceleration for h264 content so will play 1080p without stutter but output downscaled to 720p. Also the DB is stored on the ATV2 so no issue there. It does not have usb ports so need network attached storage.

HTPC - you can build a very good pc with integrated hdmi, etc for bugger all these days, run linux and xbmc or mediaportal to keep costs down. I built mine with a low power amd chip and all in one motherboard over 3 years ago and it has never missed a beat.

The upside to the smaller media players is they are fanless so I tend to have one in the bedroom where quiet operation is key. In the lounge a full on htpc is just more flexible (think justin.tv or myp2p.eu if you wanted to watch sport but don't have sky).


I see the WDTV being the easiest option but the HTPC seems like it would be more fun! What sort of specs would a HTPC require? i.e. Motherboard (obviously with HDMI output), CPU speed (duel/quad core?), RAM, Graphics and Sound Cards

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  Reply # 535980 21-Oct-2011 09:14
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Check this one out.. Does everything you want, and comes with XBMC...

Xtreamer Ultra

I can vouch for xtreamer, i have the original xtreamer. It took less than a week for it to arrive from Hong Kong.

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Master Geek
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  Reply # 536016 21-Oct-2011 10:43
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amford:

I see the WDTV being the easiest option but the HTPC seems like it would be more fun! What sort of specs would a HTPC require? i.e. Motherboard (obviously with HDMI output), CPU speed (duel/quad core?), RAM, Graphics and Sound Cards


Mine is older, amd 4850e (dual core 2.5ghz), 2gb ddr2, gigabyte 780g chipset mobo and an old 80gb hdd I had lying around (all media is on a central server).

The mobo was the key as it has onboard hdmi out (built-in radeon hd3400), optical audio and all the connectors I need meaning no requirement to buy a graphics card, low power and minimal fan noise. Plus it's cheaper :)

I'm not up on what the current recommended hardware is but I'd probably go for something by amd for a low cost system (these are just quick examples, I'd read avforums or htpc forums for the current bang for buck mobos)

Athlon X2 http://www.computerstore.co.nz/ADX265OCGMBOX.aspx
Mobo http://www.ifocus.co.nz/Motherboards/AMD+Motherboards/GIGABYTE+GA-880GM-UD2H+AM3+AMD+880G+HDMI+Micro+ATX+AMD+Motherboard+-+Retail.html

or an i3 system based a mobo like this one:

http://www.computerstore.co.nz/H67M-B3.aspx
http://www.computerstore.co.nz/BX80616I3560.aspx

with 4gb of cheap ram
power supply
case
cheap ir receiver from ebay

(there are probably better prices out there I'm just using computerstore as an example)

Given 2nd hand hardware is worth next to nothing you could trawl trademe and find something with similar specs to mine for pretty cheap I'd say, only I don't have some of the newer HD audio features (still have DTS which is all that I really care about).



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Master Geek


  Reply # 536063 21-Oct-2011 11:32
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shall0w:
amford:

I see the WDTV being the easiest option but the HTPC seems like it would be more fun! What sort of specs would a HTPC require? i.e. Motherboard (obviously with HDMI output), CPU speed (duel/quad core?), RAM, Graphics and Sound Cards


Mine is older, amd 4850e (dual core 2.5ghz), 2gb ddr2, gigabyte 780g chipset mobo and an old 80gb hdd I had lying around (all media is on a central server).

The mobo was the key as it has onboard hdmi out (built-in radeon hd3400), optical audio and all the connectors I need meaning no requirement to buy a graphics card, low power and minimal fan noise. Plus it's cheaper :)

I'm not up on what the current recommended hardware is but I'd probably go for something by amd for a low cost system (these are just quick examples, I'd read avforums or htpc forums for the current bang for buck mobos)

Athlon X2 http://www.computerstore.co.nz/ADX265OCGMBOX.aspx
Mobo http://www.ifocus.co.nz/Motherboards/AMD+Motherboards/GIGABYTE+GA-880GM-UD2H+AM3+AMD+880G+HDMI+Micro+ATX+AMD+Motherboard+-+Retail.html

or an i3 system based a mobo like this one:

http://www.computerstore.co.nz/H67M-B3.aspx
http://www.computerstore.co.nz/BX80616I3560.aspx

with 4gb of cheap ram
power supply
case
cheap ir receiver from ebay

(there are probably better prices out there I'm just using computerstore as an example)

Given 2nd hand hardware is worth next to nothing you could trawl trademe and find something with similar specs to mine for pretty cheap I'd say, only I don't have some of the newer HD audio features (still have DTS which is all that I really care about).


http://pricespy.co.nz/product_list.php?do=lista&k=44662


It would end up being quite a good build. I have a wee 80GB HD i could throw in for the OS (probably Ubuntu) and then just plug into my externals, router and TV.




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Master Geek
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  Reply # 536069 21-Oct-2011 11:41
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Yep that would all work quite nicely, ubuntu runs xbmc no problems and the xbmc forums have plenty of support. (I can't comment on any quirks as I run windows 7)

The only thing I'd upgrade in future is to a SSD (though I'm currently doing that to all my systems as the speed bump is amazing) as I like to hibernate the pc when not in use and it would speed up resume times. You need stuff all disk so I was even thinking of a kingston v series - 30GB for about $100..



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Master Geek


  Reply # 536084 21-Oct-2011 12:07
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Sounds good. Cheers for the help!

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  Reply # 536252 21-Oct-2011 19:52
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Kinda depends on exactly what you want to achieve.

What you have described in terms of playback is fairly simple and the WD TV Live would do it all reliably and well, DSE is selling them for $129 at the moment. External drives, networkable, 1080p etc. If you are a bit more solvent then the Live Hub is a better unit (circa $350) - better menus, remote, GB ethernet, and an internal HD as well as the two externals. Either WD will take a wireless adapter for file transfer/streaming. Popcorn hours and AC Ryans etc are in the same camp - although I haven't used these models personally.

If all you really want is something to plug into your receiver via HDMI and play all of your content, then this is what I would do as a cheap reliable solution. An HTPC would be an over-complicated expensive overkill if its sole use was to be as a bog-standard media player.

However, if you want to do more, such as dropping in a blu ray drive, a satellite tuner and/or terrestrial tuner for recording, a video capture device to archive material off the MySky etc, or keep these options open for future expansion, then the HTPC makes sense. I would go with a low(ish) end i3 model, with a hauppauge or similar tuner care (dual satellite and terrestrial), blu-ray drive and a quiet 5400rpm drive. OS choices are varied - Windows media center, Myth TV, XBMC etc.

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