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eweazel

join:2008-12-09
York, ON
Reviews:
·TekSavvy DSL

Building an HTPC vs a Media Server

I have a boxee box, but as its going into maintenace mode since they are no longer gonna support it I was thinking what would be the best bang for my bucks.

An HTPC, Roku, WDTV Live, or somethign else. My funds are quite limited, lets put it at a maximum of 300.00 for the htpc build. I have media on my desktop computer, and NAS storage that I would like streamed. As well I would like to be able to still have access to netflix and huluplus.



lugnut

@communications.com

I picked up a couple of Roku 2 XS boxes just before xmas and I gotta say I'm really happy with them. Though to be honest I should have saved myself $30 a piece and bought the XD models instead. Really the only things the XS offers over the XD are a physical ethernet port and a full copy of angry birds.

I never needed the ethernet ports and angry birds just becomes an exercise in frustration once you're stuck at a level.

No Huluplus though. You have to enter a valid credit card and address to activate the boxes and that determines what apps you have access to.



ekster
Hi there
Premium
join:2010-07-16
Lachine, QC
kudos:3
Reviews:
·FreePhoneLine
reply to eweazel

If your budget is 300, I would avoid going to HTPC route. While it's very possible to build one for that price, you would need to spend a bit more to get a good HTPC that will easily handle HD, be quiet, and look decent (if you want to have it in the living room with everything else.) I'd be looking at about $500 for something decent.

I built mine about a year ago for around $600. Mind you, I did spend a bit extra on a better video card, got an i3, an SSD and a nicer box... but I found it to be worth it. No one can tell there's a PC in the living room. Everyone thinks it's a blu-ray/DVD player, it's very silent. Can only hear it if there is zero noise in the whole house during a very hot day in the summer. And it can easily play any HD video, bluray disk or anything else without an effort even if I'm doing something else in the background like burning to/from a disk, transferring files from another computer, downloading, etc.



EUS
Kill cancer
Premium
join:2002-09-10
canada
Reviews:
·voip.ms
reply to eweazel

I am personally getting sick of the WD Live box, the QC of the software is down there with Shaw motorola satellite boxes.
Awful, and I will not buy either product again.
--
~ Project Hope ~



LazMan
Premium
join:2003-03-26
canada
reply to eweazel

Depending on your feelings for/against Apple...

I like the Apple TV - got two, small, simple, plays from my NAS (built in iTunes server) as well and Netflix and YouTube. For $99, it was a no brainer for me... (Already living in an iDevice house, though - multiple iPads/Pods/Phones, so most of my media was in iTunes already). Already had most of my media (DVD & BluRay) converted to iTunes formats anways.

Works well for me.


eweazel

join:2008-12-09
York, ON
Reviews:
·TekSavvy DSL

said by LazMan:

Depending on your feelings for/against Apple...

I like the Apple TV - got two, small, simple, plays from my NAS (built in iTunes server) as well and Netflix and YouTube. For $99, it was a no brainer for me... (Already living in an iDevice house, though - multiple iPads/Pods/Phones, so most of my media was in iTunes already). Already had most of my media (DVD & BluRay) converted to iTunes formats anways.

Works well for me.

Not a big fan of Itunes. I like how the Boxee box handled things. I just downloaded what I wanted and it handled all the file types without having to make it into a seperate format.

eweazel

join:2008-12-09
York, ON
Reviews:
·TekSavvy DSL
reply to ekster

said by ekster:

If your budget is 300, I would avoid going to HTPC route. While it's very possible to build one for that price, you would need to spend a bit more to get a good HTPC that will easily handle HD, be quiet, and look decent (if you want to have it in the living room with everything else.) I'd be looking at about $500 for something decent.

I built mine about a year ago for around $600. Mind you, I did spend a bit extra on a better video card, got an i3, an SSD and a nicer box... but I found it to be worth it. No one can tell there's a PC in the living room. Everyone thinks it's a blu-ray/DVD player, it's very silent. Can only hear it if there is zero noise in the whole house during a very hot day in the summer. And it can easily play any HD video, bluray disk or anything else without an effort even if I'm doing something else in the background like burning to/from a disk, transferring files from another computer, downloading, etc.

I just want it to play videos, by desktop would handle everything else. I even considered the zotac's for a while there.

eweazel

join:2008-12-09
York, ON
Reviews:
·TekSavvy DSL
reply to lugnut

said by lugnut :

I picked up a couple of Roku 2 XS boxes just before xmas and I gotta say I'm really happy with them. Though to be honest I should have saved myself $30 a piece and bought the XD models instead. Really the only things the XS offers over the XD are a physical ethernet port and a full copy of angry birds.

I never needed the ethernet ports and angry birds just becomes an exercise in frustration once you're stuck at a level.

No Huluplus though. You have to enter a valid credit card and address to activate the boxes and that determines what apps you have access to.

The Roku's look good, I rather have it wired ethernet the wireless, but thats my preference. I am assuming it would work with unblock us in me getting the american stuff.

analog andy

join:2005-01-03
Surrey, BC
reply to eweazel

I have a couple WD TV live and do like them but there seem to be some annoying bugs when playing Hulu Plus. I looked at the Roku but its mostly designed for streaming content and will only play mkv or mp4 files. If you want something else you need to run a steaming server software that you access it through a Roku channel. Also with the Roku you can't change network settings like DNS so if you want to use a DNS service you have to set that up through your router. The WD player doesn't have this problem.



elwoodblues
Elwood Blues
Premium
join:2006-08-30
Somewhere in
kudos:2
reply to EUS

said by EUS:

I am personally getting sick of the WD Live box, the QC of the software is down there with Shaw motorola satellite boxes.
Awful, and I will not buy either product again.

Thier QC does suck bad.. they are rolling out alpha's/betas and expecting their customers to find the bugs.

There was a release awhile ago that ejected the USB powered drives arbitrarily. Then another "update' that stopped seeing network shares.

Just incredible. I stopped updating mine.. it works fine and i don't really care about being able to control it from my iDevice(the latest "fix").

I have the AIOS HD player, but I can't stand the GUI, not to mention they are SOO slow in releasing updates to the firmware.

I bought it because it was supposed to play BR ISO's, but I found out that it doesn't support BR-Java menus.
--
No, I didn't. Honest... I ran out of gas. I... I had a flat tire. I didn't have enough money for cab fare. My tux didn't come back from the cleaners. An old friend came in from out of town. Someone stole my car. There was an earthquake.......


J E F F
Whatta Ya Think About Dat?
Premium
join:2004-04-01
Kitchener, ON
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Rogers Portable ..
reply to lugnut

said by lugnut :

No Huluplus though. You have to enter a valid credit card and address to activate the boxes and that determines what apps you have access to.

Go to 7/11, buy a MasterCard, activate to US address, like Oregon, open iTunes account to same US zip code, buy HuluPlus subscription, use Unblock-Us for DNS, reset Roku, boot it back, it will think you're American, and activate the Roku box over the Internet.
--
If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough. - Albert Einstein


LazMan
Premium
join:2003-03-26
canada
reply to eweazel

said by eweazel:

Not a big fan of Itunes. I like how the Boxee box handled things. I just downloaded what I wanted and it handled all the file types without having to make it into a seperate format.

Won't get an argument from me - as I mentioned, I was already heavily invested into iTunes, it was a logical connection. I tried a WD Live and an LG Smart TV box before the Apple TV - neither were quite was I was after...

There's some pretty cool XMB stuff on JB ATV's, too, from what I hear, but I've never gone down that road, so can't speak from any first-hand knowledge...

eweazel

join:2008-12-09
York, ON
Reviews:
·TekSavvy DSL

said by LazMan:

said by eweazel:

Not a big fan of Itunes. I like how the Boxee box handled things. I just downloaded what I wanted and it handled all the file types without having to make it into a seperate format.

Won't get an argument from me - as I mentioned, I was already heavily invested into iTunes, it was a logical connection. I tried a WD Live and an LG Smart TV box before the Apple TV - neither were quite was I was after...

There's some pretty cool XMB stuff on JB ATV's, too, from what I hear, but I've never gone down that road, so can't speak from any first-hand knowledge...

Never thought of the APTV jail broken, that could be an option too. I did try the Raspberry PI, but boy was that slow.


LazMan
Premium
join:2003-03-26
canada

A guy at work raves about his JB ATV - something like 800 streaming channels, plays every movie format he throws at it, etc, etc...

Like I said, I haven't done it, but I've been tempted... One day I may pickup an extra one to try it on - the hardware is cool as hell - small and clean...


eweazel

join:2008-12-09
York, ON
Reviews:
·TekSavvy DSL

said by LazMan:

A guy at work raves about his JB ATV - something like 800 streaming channels, plays every movie format he throws at it, etc, etc...

Like I said, I haven't done it, but I've been tempted... One day I may pickup an extra one to try it on - the hardware is cool as hell - small and clean...

Now I am really tempted to buy one off of ebay. Have to look into if it has to be a certain generation one, or if they are all easily hacked.


EUS
Kill cancer
Premium
join:2002-09-10
canada
reply to elwoodblues

It's not just the alphas/betas, the production s-ware is terrible too.
--
~ Project Hope ~



zed173

join:2010-07-17
Mississauga, ON
reply to eweazel

said by eweazel:

said by ekster:

If your budget is 300, I would avoid going to HTPC route. While it's very possible to build one for that price, you would need to spend a bit more to get a good HTPC that will easily handle HD, be quiet, and look decent (if you want to have it in the living room with everything else.) I'd be looking at about $500 for something decent.

I built mine about a year ago for around $600. Mind you, I did spend a bit extra on a better video card, got an i3, an SSD and a nicer box... but I found it to be worth it. No one can tell there's a PC in the living room. Everyone thinks it's a blu-ray/DVD player, it's very silent. Can only hear it if there is zero noise in the whole house during a very hot day in the summer. And it can easily play any HD video, bluray disk or anything else without an effort even if I'm doing something else in the background like burning to/from a disk, transferring files from another computer, downloading, etc.

I just want it to play videos, by desktop would handle everything else. I even considered the zotac's for a while there.

I got the Pivos AIOS from Canada Computers for $119 and it plays everything I throw at it so far. Can mount NFS and SMB, stream from UPNP as well. Even has a slot for a hot swap SATA drive if you want need it. Runs Busybox Linux inside.

»www.pivosgroup.com/aios.html


TOPDAWG
Premium
join:2005-04-27
Midland, ON
kudos:3
Reviews:
·TekSavvy DSL

3 edits
reply to ekster

I got to disagree. You don't need much to have a nice little HTPC. I'm sporting a monster duel-core system and it runs everything just fine.



I got a AMD Radon HD 6450 and I've no issue running HD movies.



OP if you want something cheap and small look into the »www.raspberrypi.org/. I may get a ouya myself if it turns out to run XBMC well. Only issue with the pi and ouya is no digitel output port that I would need for sound if you really want something small and don't need a digital port unlike me I'd look into a ouya myself it will support netflix and all that plus XBMC.

also boxee box is dead? oh I see they moved on to a new version.


morisato

join:2008-03-16
Oshawa, ON
reply to eweazel

I would recommend saving a fortune and Look into a Raspberry PI from element14 Costs like 5-60 bucks all told and Works with RASPMC an xmbc linux distro,
--
Every time Someone leaves Sympatico an Angel gets its wings.



TOPDAWG
Premium
join:2005-04-27
Midland, ON
kudos:3
Reviews:
·TekSavvy DSL

well being as he wants netflix and the like the pi is not the perfect fit. The ouya will have all the legal stuff plus XBMC so it should fit a person needs well and it's still open source hardware.

I'd go for one of those if my receiver had HDMI ports. hell I may get one anyway. oh damn thing does not come out till April 2013 that is a long time to wait.



urbanriot
Premium
join:2004-10-18
Canada
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Cogeco Cable
reply to TOPDAWG

said by TOPDAWG:

I got to disagree. You don't need much to have a nice little HTPC. I'm sporting a monster duel-core system and it runs everything just fine.

... yea, but that's not an HTCP, it's something that belongs under a desk in 2004.


TOPDAWG
Premium
join:2005-04-27
Midland, ON
kudos:3

ok whats an HTPC then? if you want to play games too then sure you'll need more but for watching movies it's no issue. I can run 1080P and the like no issue and everything runs smooth online like youtube HD and crap.



Wolfie00
My dog is an elitist
Premium
join:2005-03-12
kudos:8
reply to morisato

said by morisato:

I would recommend saving a fortune and Look into a Raspberry PI from element14 Costs like 5-60 bucks all told and Works with RASPMC an xmbc linux distro,

This has "too good to be true" written all over it, yet the little fellow claims to support 1080p (with audio over HDMI), and there are actually several XBMC implementations for it. It will need a keyboard and possibly a mouse attached to actually do anything with it -- the nice thing about dedicated media players is having a remote control. I might order one just as a fun toy and see what it can do, along with one of those red-raspberry colored boxes to put it in!
--
"The promoters of the global economy see nothing odd or difficult about unlimited economic growth or unlimited consumption in a limited world."
Wendell Berry


urbanriot
Premium
join:2004-10-18
Canada
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Cogeco Cable
reply to TOPDAWG

said by TOPDAWG:

ok whats an HTPC then?

Usually they're more home theatre oriented, as in small form factor or mITX, and not big old desktop computers. I was more busting your balls than anything.


Guspaz
Guspaz
Premium,MVM
join:2001-11-05
Montreal, QC
kudos:22
reply to eweazel

Popcorn Hour, perhaps? Their highest-end model is $249, and plays pretty much everything. It's also one of the few streamers to support SSA subtitles at all (which is what most anime uses).

It supports pretty much every subtitle format, video codec, common container, etc:

»www.popcornhour.com/onlinestore/···temId=55
--
Developer: Tomato/MLPPP, Linux/MLPPP, etc »fixppp.org



TOPDAWG
Premium
join:2005-04-27
Midland, ON
kudos:3
Reviews:
·TekSavvy DSL
reply to urbanriot

yeah it's dick ugly. It was the wifes old PC but we both just use my laptop so I turned it into an HTPC. It works well for what I need. I'm a jobless fuck right now so I'll replace it in the future. I got more then enough money to get a new one but I'm a cheap mofo.

I also kind of want to wait and hope one day to finish my basement so that is when I will build a new HTPC mind you long as the one I'm using does not die and give it good spics to run games and the like. I like the ouya but like I said I need a new receiver as no digitel port is on the ouya and again my current one still works and it's like near 10 years old but still works and I don't want to buy one then need a new one once I do my basement.

Also need to build a damn NAS and not have 6 external drives.


LastDon

join:2002-08-13
London, ON
reply to Wolfie00

said by Wolfie00:

said by morisato:

I would recommend saving a fortune and Look into a Raspberry PI from element14 Costs like 5-60 bucks all told and Works with RASPMC an xmbc linux distro,

This has "too good to be true" written all over it, yet the little fellow claims to support 1080p (with audio over HDMI), and there are actually several XBMC implementations for it. It will need a keyboard and possibly a mouse attached to actually do anything with it -- the nice thing about dedicated media players is having a remote control. I might order one just as a fun toy and see what it can do, along with one of those red-raspberry colored boxes to put it in!

I use the minix android player and it works like a charm, hdmi, sound, and video. it is not google tv but an actual android os from phones.

they aren't to shabby if u don't want to spend a lot of money


Wolfie00
My dog is an elitist
Premium
join:2005-03-12
kudos:8

1 edit
reply to Guspaz

said by Guspaz:

Popcorn Hour, perhaps? Their highest-end model is $249, and plays pretty much everything. It's also one of the few streamers to support SSA subtitles at all (which is what most anime uses).

It supports pretty much every subtitle format, video codec, common container, etc:

»www.popcornhour.com/onlinestore/···temId=55

I'd heard of Popcorn Hour before because of excellent reviews but had forgotten about that as a good media player option. Actually their highest-end model ATM is the C-300 @ $349 ($369 in the combo version with Blu-ray drive). However the one you mention -- A-400 -- is new and the better value for most folks. I'd be OK with the A-300 which is $30 cheaper than A-400 at $219.

PCH generally has a very good reputation but it's far from perfect -- check out some comments here:
»www.mpcclub.com/forum/showthread.php?t=29610

There are also licensing issues that seem to be common to many media players -- lack of full (or any) Blu-Ray menu support, and speed limits on NTFS writes. Stuff like this sometimes makes HTPC's look better, depending on one's needs.


ruddypict

join:2010-03-24
kudos:2
reply to eweazel

I have some experience setting up Raspberry Pi's as HTPC's.

- Can't beat the price. $35 for the Pi board. $7 for a power adapter (or use one you already have). $7 for the plastic case (or 3D Print a case, or hell, build it out of Lego, I've done both).
- Can't beat that electrical usage.
- You can sync libraries between Pi's. This will also keep your bookmarks and "Watched" status between Pi's.
- Its impressive watching this tiny cheap thing playing 1080p video.
- The installers really make things easy. They exist for Windows Mac and Linux. It sets up your SD card for initial installation and then the Pi completes when you first run it.

Its not for everyone. Some people will prefer the ease of use and stability of a turn-key system (I mention stability as RPi software is still beta). In my case, I like to tinker with stuff. Setting up 3 TV's for $105 didn't hurt either.


eweazel

join:2008-12-09
York, ON
Reviews:
·TekSavvy DSL
reply to eweazel

I had a Raspberry PI, was one of the first ones to get one. But I found it very slow loading up my media files, and very slow to responding to key presses. So I ended up selling it and keeping the boxee box. It could have been a bad installation of xbmc that caused it, not sure.