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post #1 of 15 Old 12-07-2011, 07:18 AM - Thread Starter
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Hey, First Post!

So I'm not really a newbie when it comes to HTPC. I've had HTPC's since the good ol' MCE2005 days, I've experimented with Windows, boxee, xbmc, and for the past couple of years I've been using Plex. I've loved Plex, the things it does (organize media on server, play content) it does well. However, my requirements have changed a little. I like the idea of "apps" or plugins to stream video online, hulu, netflix, etc. but most importantly, I need access to NHL Gamecenter Live. Plex doesn't have any support for NHL, and the other plugins are mediocre at best. Another requirement will be accessing Live TV (with guide) from a cable card tuner (HDHomerun PRIME, Ceton), on multiple machines. Plex has no support or plans for this. My current setup is a Mac Mini, running plex. When I want to watch NHL, I quit plex and use a mouse to open browser (do not want to have to use mouse, must all be integrated and controlled with Harmony remote). When I watch tv, I have to switch over to my STB.

I need a set up that will allow me to have it all, so to speak. At this point, I dont care if it's Mac, Windows, Linux, whatever, I just need a box that will do what I want. Also, all my media is stored on a server, so I would be down for a little streaming box i.e. Roku, AppleTV

So far the options I've explored:
Plex- Does a great job with local (LAN) media files, plugins suck, no tv
Boxee - Interface is kind of lame, but the Plugins are nice. Doesn't seem to support HDHomerun Prime, also lacks the server-client model that I love about Plex -not a huge deal.
XBMC - Fairly similar issues that I have with Plex, lack luster plugins, no NHL Gamecenter, but it does look like people have gotten the MythTV frontend to work inside XBMC and with the HDHomerun Prime.
Windows MCE - Plex runs on MCE, will def support whatever tuner I want, but I need an interface for Gamecenter. Maybe I just havent found a good repository for MCE Plugins, but it doesnt look like there is much out there.
AppleTV2 - I already own one, I like the Gamecenter, limited access to Plex (once I am able to JB it) but I will likely never be able to access an HDHomerun.
Roku - Plex support, NHL Gamecenter, other "apps", as of right now no LiveTV support. That is the only deal breaker with the Roku.
Xbox360 - I also own one of these. This would support an HDHomerun, if I have a MCE computer on that this can extend from, but I still run into the issue of plugins.

An added bonus would be some sort of access to Emulators and Roms, from within whatever software I am running, but this is absolutely NOT a requirement.

Is there anything out there that is going to do exactly what I want? Am I missing anything in my assessment of whats out there? Any advice you could give would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
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post #2 of 15 Old 12-07-2011, 08:04 AM
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Don't know if it will help, but I run Windows 7 Media Center with Media Browser and Game browser plugins. This gives me access to all of my movies and tv rips, as well as music and games (emulators and PC games)

I also have shortcuts to Hulu Desktop and Boxee from within the WMC7 interface and can navigate in and out of them using the 10-foot interface.

I don't know about Gamecenter, if Boxee has an app that could work, or use WMC7 and Media Center Studio to create a link to Gamecenter in your browser for an almost 10-foot interface...

PSN: Nada_BDK
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post #3 of 15 Old 12-07-2011, 08:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reebzor View Post

Hey, First Post!

So I'm not really a newbie when it comes to HTPC. I've had HTPC's since the good ol' MCE2005 days, I've experimented with Windows, boxee, xbmc, and for the past couple of years I've been using Plex. I've loved Plex, the things it does (organize media on server, play content) it does well. However, my requirements have changed a little. I like the idea of "apps" or plugins to stream video online, hulu, netflix, etc. but most importantly, I need access to NHL Gamecenter Live. Plex doesn't have any support for NHL, and the other plugins are mediocre at best. Another requirement will be accessing Live TV (with guide) from a cable card tuner (HDHomerun PRIME, Ceton), on multiple machines. Plex has no support or plans for this. My current setup is a Mac Mini, running plex. When I want to watch NHL, I quit plex and use a mouse to open browser (do not want to have to use mouse, must all be integrated and controlled with Harmony remote). When I watch tv, I have to switch over to my STB.

I need a set up that will allow me to have it all, so to speak. At this point, I dont care if it's Mac, Windows, Linux, whatever, I just need a box that will do what I want. Also, all my media is stored on a server, so I would be down for a little streaming box i.e. Roku, AppleTV

So far the options I've explored:
Plex- Does a great job with local (LAN) media files, plugins suck, no tv
Boxee - Interface is kind of lame, but the Plugins are nice. Doesn't seem to support HDHomerun Prime, also lacks the server-client model that I love about Plex -not a huge deal.
XBMC - Fairly similar issues that I have with Plex, lack luster plugins, no NHL Gamecenter, but it does look like people have gotten the MythTV frontend to work inside XBMC and with the HDHomerun Prime.
Windows MCE - Plex runs on MCE, will def support whatever tuner I want, but I need an interface for Gamecenter. Maybe I just havent found a good repository for MCE Plugins, but it doesnt look like there is much out there.
AppleTV2 - I already own one, I like the Gamecenter, limited access to Plex (once I am able to JB it) but I will likely never be able to access an HDHomerun.
Roku - Plex support, NHL Gamecenter, other "apps", as of right now no LiveTV support. That is the only deal breaker with the Roku.
Xbox360 - I also own one of these. This would support an HDHomerun, if I have a MCE computer on that this can extend from, but I still run into the issue of plugins.

An added bonus would be some sort of access to Emulators and Roms, from within whatever software I am running, but this is absolutely NOT a requirement.

Is there anything out there that is going to do exactly what I want? Am I missing anything in my assessment of whats out there? Any advice you could give would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

Can't you launch NHL Gamecenter from the Boxee app? I know there is a plug-in to launch Boxee from WMC. You should be able to view NHL from there. I wouldn't think this would be the ideal way to open it, but it should work okay.


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post #4 of 15 Old 12-07-2011, 08:37 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replys. Based on what you guys have given me, I guess I could run Win7MCE.

Use WMC to access TV
Media Browser to access games
Plex (inside of WMC) for my Movies and TV
Boxee (inside WMC) for Gamecenter.

Now this would work, but it is a little convoluted. I wanted to see if there is One interface to rule them all. Not having to go through all the different interfaces (WMC, Boxee, and Plex) to get to what I want. This may be my only option though...


Also, sort of unreleated but does anyone know if I can use the built-in IR receiver on my Mac Mini with a Harmony remote while running Windows? I am going to dual boot it to test this set up before building a new PC.
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post #5 of 15 Old 12-07-2011, 08:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reebzor View Post

Thanks for the replys. Based on what you guys have given me, I guess I could run Win7MCE.

Use WMC to access TV
Media Browser to access games
Plex (inside of WMC) for my Movies and TV
Boxee (inside WMC) for Gamecenter.

Now this would work, but it is a little convoluted. I wanted to see if there is One interface to rule them all. Not having to go through all the different interfaces (WMC, Boxee, and Plex) to get to what I want. This may be my only option though...


Also, sort of unreleated but does anyone know if I can use the built-in IR receiver on my Mac Mini with a Harmony remote while running Windows? I am going to dual boot it to test this set up before building a new PC.

Why not use Media Browser for the Movies and TV as well as the games?


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post #6 of 15 Old 12-07-2011, 08:56 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Jobber8742 View Post

Why not use Media Browser for the Movies and TV as well as the games?

EDIT: Are you running Plex in the OS environment still and the rest in the Windows environment?

Yea this is something I am looking into. I already have everything setup in Plex so it would be easier to just continue using it, but for a more "integrated" experience I would like the movies and tv in media browser. It's just going to be hard completely migrating off Plex. I would still have to launch Boxee for Gamecenter, but that is a lot less frequently used compared to Movies, TV, and Live TV.
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post #7 of 15 Old 12-07-2011, 08:57 AM
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The Harmony remote should work with the Mac Mini.

WMC is fantastic for live and recorded TV. Media Browser works great for movies. If you have blu-rays too, PowerDVD integrates nicely into WMC. The Netflix app is also great.

I think you may be out of luck with the NHL. WMC can browse to web pages, but the interaction with the remote can get funky.


I know that NHL gamecenter is available on the PS3, so maybe you can check with them to see if an Xbox version is on the way. An Xbox 360, coupled with a WMC PC, might be your best overall experience.
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post #8 of 15 Old 12-07-2011, 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by reebzor View Post

I wanted to see if there is One interface to rule them all. Not having to go through all the different interfaces (WMC, Boxee, and Plex) to get to what I want.

Ah. The quest for the Holy Grail.

Today the problem is NHL Center Ice. Tomorrow it will be something else.

I know that many people here think that using a browser will give them cooties, but really it's the only way to get everything. Otherwise you're at the mercy of what access the box-builder deigns to provide, what plug-ins might be available. how many layers of nested interfaces are required, etc.

Really, it takes two clicks to open a browser and click on a link. Is that really harder than using 4 different plug ins nested inside of WMC, especially when even that won't provide everything available today or which might become available tomorrow?

Is this:



really so much harder to use than this:

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post #9 of 15 Old 12-07-2011, 09:43 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Zon2020 View Post

Is this really so much harder to use than this:

I never claimed it was "hard" using a mouse. I just don't want to. Based on that, why would anyone use Media Center software at all? "Is double clicking a file in a folder really that much harder that using your remote?" The answer is still no, but if we can do it the easier way (even if its not that much easier), then why not?

I understand all the caveats, especially the "today is NHL, tomorrow is something else." Well, when tomorrow comes, I will just have to come up with a new solution. The whole point of my thread is that yesterday's setup has worked perfectly for me, but it is today and I need today's setup to get all that I want. I'm just starting to think I might be asking a little too much.
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post #10 of 15 Old 12-07-2011, 09:55 AM
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Originally Posted by reebzor View Post

I understand all the caveats, especially the "today is NHL, tomorrow is something else." Well, when tomorrow comes, I will just have to come up with a new solution. The whole point of my thread is that yesterday's setup has worked perfectly for me, but it is today and I need today's setup to get all that I want. I'm just starting to think I might be asking a little too much.

I understand. You're certainly not alone. In fact you're probably in the majority. But these front ends were all designed before streaming media became important and when all that was involved was watching stored movies and live TV. So they get patched by adding a few plug ins or apps for some of the most popular content like netflix, but it's really a kluge. You either limit yourself to what they provide, or the reality is that if you want access to any and all streaming content, today you have to use a browser.

Personally, I use JRiverMC for movies and music (so I'm never double clicking on folders or files), and a browser to access all the streaming content I want. (I use DirecTV for live TV, otherwise I would be watching with great interest JRiver's progress in integrating Cetons.)

I figure it will be another 5 years or more before someone builds a new front end that is actually flexible enough to allow you to easily build your own apps or links for whatever content you want to build in to your system. I look forward to that.
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post #11 of 15 Old 12-07-2011, 10:09 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Zon2020 View Post

I understand. You're certainly not alone. In fact you're probably in the majority. But these front ends were all designed before streaming media became important and when all that was involved was watching stored movies and live TV. So they get patched by adding a few plug ins or apps for some of the most popular content like netflix, but it's really a kluge. You either limit yourself to what they provide, or the reality is that if you want access to any and all streaming content, today you have to use a browser.

Personally, I use JRiverMC for movies and music (so I'm never double clicking on folders or files), and a browser to access all the streaming content I want. (I use DirecTV for live TV, otherwise I would be watching with great interest JRiver's progress in integrating Cetons.)

I figure it will be another 5 years or more before someone builds a new front end that is actually flexible enough to allow you to easily build your own apps or links for whatever content you want to build in to your system. I look forward to that.

I agree completely with you. There just seems to be so many capable devices out there: HTPC's (WMC, Plex, Boxee, XBMC), AppleTV, Roku, WDTV, LG TV's & BD, Samsung TV's & BD, Sony TV's & BD. They all do different things yet none of them do everything. The market is too flooded with devices but probably not in users. It does make a little sense though- how could I, as a developer, keep up with making all these different apps and plugins for all these different devices? It's just not going to happen until there is some sort of standardization between devices. Which, you're right, people probably wont figure out for another 5 years.
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post #12 of 15 Old 12-07-2011, 10:20 AM
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Originally Posted by reebzor View Post

I agree completely with you. There just seems to be so many capable devices out there: HTPC's (WMC, Plex, Boxee, XBMC), AppleTV, Roku, WDTV, LG TV's & BD, Samsung TV's & BD, Sony TV's & BD. They all do different things yet none of them do everything. The market is too flooded with devices but probably not in users. It does make a little sense though- how could I, as a developer, keep up with making all these different apps and plugins for all these different devices? It's just not going to happen until there is some sort of standardization between devices. Which, you're right, people probably wont figure out for another 5 years.

Kylo would be pretty close if it only let you create your own icons and links. I don't know why that should be so hard but it apparently is.

I could deal with turning on my pc and clicking either JRMC or Kylo if that's all had to do.

My guess is that they will instead go to an "app" approach for Windows, with every site offering an "app" to place on your desktop that gives access to its site like a tablet.
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post #13 of 15 Old 12-07-2011, 11:31 AM - Thread Starter
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Maybe if I could launch Kylo from Plex... now we are talking. I'm still just in the process of exploring my options anyway. Ultimately deciding if I should sell/re-purpose my Mac Mini in favor of a Roku (As of right now, the Roku does all my Mini does, but better), which I will probably do. Then I can just continue using my STB for TV. Before I do this, I want to rule out WMC as an option, which I have yet to do but it is looking that way.

Oh well, we'll see where things go from here.
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post #14 of 15 Old 12-07-2011, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by reebzor View Post

Maybe if I could launch Kylo from Plex... now we are talking. I'm still just in the process of exploring my options anyway. Ultimately deciding if I should sell/re-purpose my Mac Mini in favor of a Roku (As of right now, the Roku does all my Mini does, but better), which I will probably do. Then I can just continue using my STB for TV. Before I do this, I want to rule out WMC as an option, which I have yet to do but it is looking that way.

Oh well, we'll see where things go from here.

Problem with Roku is that then THEY control what you can watch (I wonder, do they get paid a fee by the content providers for access to their box?).

Especially if you use the internet to access sports for your HDTV, that just doesn't work. Not only things like ESPN3 and GoFightLive and the NCAA Basketball Tournament on CBSsports.com, but an increasing number of colleges are broadcasting a variety of their sporting events via the internet from their own websites, sometimes for a subscription, sometimes free. Roku will never carry any of that because the market is too fragmented. At least with an HTPC, even if you use a front end 90% of the time, you retain the ability to access everything else by dropping out to a browser if and when you choose to do so.

Roku also will never carry most of the available streaming music content. If you're happy with just Pandora it works, but if you want other content, you're out of luck. Even things like Hulu, Cracker, TV.com and HBOGo are spotty or unavailable.

Roku seems to have the widest assortment of content available, but it's still very limited in the scheme of things.
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post #15 of 15 Old 12-07-2011, 12:45 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Zon2020 View Post

Problem with Roku is that then THEY control what you can watch (I wonder, do they get paid a fee by the content providers for access to their box?).

Especially if you use the internet to access sports for your HDTV, that just doesn't work. Not only things like ESPN3 and GoFightLive and the NCAA Basketball Tournament on CBSsports.com, but an increasing number of colleges are broadcasting a variety of their sporting events via the internet from their own websites, sometimes for a subscription, sometimes free. Roku will never carry any of that because the market is too fragmented. At least with an HTPC, even if you use a front end 90% of the time, you retain the ability to access everything else by dropping out to a browser if and when you choose to do so.

Roku also will never carry most of the available streaming music content. If you're happy with just Pandora it works, but if you want other content, you're out of luck. Even things like Hulu, Cracker, TV.com and HBOGo are spotty or unavailable.

Roku seems to have the widest assortment of content available, but it's still very limited in the scheme of things.

Fortunately I subscribe to Pandora, and not spotify or anything else so it works out for me but I see what you're saying.

We've established the fact that amount of available content and convenience are mutually exclusive. Now it's just a matter of finding something "good enough." Based on my current needs I think the Roku fits, especially at $99. I literally do nothing on my Mac Mini other than Plex and NHL Gamecenter via browser. However, it does worry me to give up my HTPC in the event I need/want to watch content via browser. I just need to figure out if convenience matters more than content available, if my girlfriend weren't so reliant on my setup this would all be a different story
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