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post #1051 of 1075 Old 02-14-2015, 01:47 PM - Thread Starter
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What exactly can it do that a ROKU 3 can't? For those things I think a bit of horsepower might be a good thing...

IMO as soon as you start running a full blown Windows OS and different kinds of software you need to jump to a CPU at least twice as powerful and add an SSD drive. If you don't want that- a ROKU is as easy as it gets.

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post #1052 of 1075 Old 02-14-2015, 03:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post
What exactly can it do that a ROKU 3 can't? For those things I think a bit of horsepower might be a good thing...

IMO as soon as you start running a full blown Windows OS and different kinds of software you need to jump to a CPU at least twice as powerful and add an SSD drive. If you don't want that- a ROKU is as easy as it gets.
With comments like that I'm pretty sure you have no idea what a Chromebox running OpenELEC can do or even is. A Roku 3 is a pretty piss poor local media player. It's an internet media streaming box. It can't access NFS or SMB network shares. You have to run Plex on another box to serve content to a Roku 3 so it can transcode all the stuff that's not in the proper format for the Roku to play. A Chromebox running OpenELEC doesn't need a Plex server. It's not an internet streaming device. You don't have to transcode anything. You can connect to network shares and just play stuff back.

Advantages over a Roku would be:
- refresh rate switching
- Proper 23.976Hz output
- VC-1 decoding
- MPEG-2 decoding
- Vector based motion adaptive deinterlacing
- Lancos3 scaling
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post #1053 of 1075 Old 02-14-2015, 04:05 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm fully aware but if I wanted stuff like that I would want a full power HTPC. Since I run Mediabrowser server and plex server on my i7 media server machine the Roku does just fine.

If I want more I fire up the i5 HTPC. Honestly most of the time I don't. HTPC gets used a lot less.

That thing seems weak sauce as a proper HTPC. It's a one trick pony stuck in no mans land. Im not understanding why I'd ever want that. It lacks simplicity and cost of the Roku and lacks the full potential of a HTPC. If you desire one or the other that chrome box doesn't seem to suffice in either event.
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post #1054 of 1075 Old 02-14-2015, 04:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post
That thing seems weak sauce as a proper HTPC. It's a one trick pony stuck in no mans land. Im not understanding why I'd ever want that. It lacks simplicity and cost of the Roku and lacks the full potential of a HTPC. If you desire one or the other that chrome box doesn't seem to suffice in either event.
Most don't want to transcode everything in their own Lan

For outside your lan it doesn't make any sense

Inside your Lan the chromebox is a great way to play everything without transcoding but with deinterlacing, refresh rate switching, audio clock sync, and lanczos upscaling

Step up to the Nuc for 3d or to run windows, but I am moving my graphics card out of my server and doing away with windows htpcs altogether. Way too much extra junk to deal with for the small benefit of 3D (which we didn't end up using much at all). At the rate we watch 3D we can just wait for ffmpeg to finally add MVC support

I don't recall what the advantage of a Chromebox over an RPi2 is though. At the moment I think the RPi2 upgrade still doesn't run the mb3 addon very well. The chrome box probably does. Both have no issue with a native kodi library of course, but that's a lot different from the mb3 add-on currently
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post #1055 of 1075 Old 02-15-2015, 06:13 AM
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I'm fully aware but if I wanted stuff like that I would want a full power HTPC. Since I run Mediabrowser server and plex server on my i7 media server machine the Roku does just fine.

If I want more I fire up the i5 HTPC. Honestly most of the time I don't. HTPC gets used a lot less.

That thing seems weak sauce as a proper HTPC. It's a one trick pony stuck in no mans land. Im not understanding why I'd ever want that. It lacks simplicity and cost of the Roku and lacks the full potential of a HTPC. If you desire one or the other that chrome box doesn't seem to suffice in either event.
You and I apparently have very different definitions of a HTPC. For a lot of people a good HTPC only needs to play back audio files bit perfect and play back their video files smoothly and correctly with high image quality. Part of this is supporting the various codecs content is likely to have, the various audio formats (HD or otherwise), the various video codecs (VC1, MPEG-2, H.264), proper deinterlacing, and refresh rate switching. That's pretty much it. A 2955U powered Chromebox does exactly that. It might be "weak sauce" by your standards for general computing but with OpenELEC it behaves like a media playing appliance. One that plays pretty much everything without a bunch of gotchas. The UI is snappy.

Apparently, you would rather run an internet appliance that requires another media server box to do all the heavy lifting for it, degrading the image and audio quality in the process via transcoding, while at the same time claiming a Chromebox running OpenELEC lacks simplicity. Lets see here... A single $160 box that plays back media directly without needing a "i7 media server machine" while offering better video and audio quality... Yeah, your right... That definitely sounds like a complicated "one trick pony solution" when compared to your expensive transcoding i7 media server + Roku 3 solution for media playback.
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post #1056 of 1075 Old 02-15-2015, 06:23 AM
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I don't recall what the advantage of a Chromebox over an RPi2 is though.
Better scaling and de-interlacing, a more capable H.264 hardware decoder (L5.x decode vs L4.1), USB 3, gigE (that's not a USB peripheral), HD audio bitstreaming (DTS-HD [MA] / DD TrueHD) instead of just LPCM, and you can photograph it with a flash.

Still, depending on what your content is and the use case the RPi2 is a very capable solution too.
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post #1057 of 1075 Old 02-15-2015, 06:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Stereodude View Post
You and I apparently have very different definitions of a HTPC. For a lot of people a good HTPC only needs to play back audio files bit perfect and play back their video files smoothly and correctly with high image quality. Part of this is supporting the various codecs content is likely to have, the various audio formats (HD or otherwise), the various video codecs (VC1, MPEG-2, H.264), proper deinterlacing, and refresh rate switching. That's pretty much it. A 2955U powered Chromebox does exactly that. It might be "weak sauce" by your standards for general computing but with OpenELEC it behaves like a media playing appliance. One that plays pretty much everything without a bunch of gotchas. The UI is snappy.

Apparently, you would rather run an internet appliance that requires another media server box to do all the heavy lifting for it, degrading the image and audio quality in the process via transcoding, while at the same time claiming a Chromebox running OpenELEC lacks simplicity. Lets see here... A single $160 box that plays back media directly without needing a "i7 media server machine" while offering better video and audio quality... Yeah, your right... That definitely sounds like a complicated "one trick pony solution" when compared to your expensive transcoding i7 media server + Roku 3 solution for media playback.
From from I've seen here over the years a lot folks like to record programs & movies. And a lot of them use a CableCard tuner & need WMC in order to record protected content programs. I don't use OpenELEC but was under the impression it didn't record & that you needed some other addons in order to do so. Is that correct or did I misunderstand OpenELEC's capabilities?
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post #1058 of 1075 Old 02-15-2015, 07:40 AM - Thread Starter
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From from I've seen here over the years a lot folks like to record programs & movies. And a lot of them use a CableCard tuner & need WMC in order to record protected content programs. I don't use OpenELEC but was under the impression it didn't record & that you needed some other addons in order to do so. Is that correct or did I misunderstand OpenELEC's capabilities?
A lot of folks do other stuff too- like download movies- manage - and a bunch of "PC" type of things on their HTPC. Especially for the "all in one" crowd... For a proper PC experience that runs windows and all kinds of software- you'd want something a bit more powerful and robust. But for a streamer only player a chromebox would be fine. I use both a HTPC and a ROKU, and I can see the advantages in both. But if I was going to bother setting up and installing software- configure and all that- I would not waste my time on something so weak as a chromebox. I could see myself doing a NUC with a SSD instead.... it would be an easy decision for me. That at least is a proper and full performance PC experience and worth the extra cost over the chromebox.

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post #1059 of 1075 Old 02-15-2015, 08:48 AM
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From from I've seen here over the years a lot folks like to record programs & movies. And a lot of them use a CableCard tuner & need WMC in order to record protected content programs. I don't use OpenELEC but was under the impression it didn't record & that you needed some other addons in order to do so. Is that correct or did I misunderstand OpenELEC's capabilities?
I'm not entirely sure. There are add-ons for OpenELEC / Kodi (XBMC) to interface with some of the various software based DVR solutions. I haven't played around with them.

I do my recording with nPVR running on my powered on 24/7 "server" in the basement which runs Windows. My HTPC also isn't a Chromebox. My HTPC runs Windows 7 and I use MPC-HC + madVR for playback. I just drag and drop files from Windows Explorer. Very low tech, but it works for me. If I could use madVR with Kodi (XBMC) I would strongly consider moving to that. In the same system I have a Chromebox as an audio playback device that drives a small 7" LCD with the album art and track info rather than a 10' interface on my 64" plasma. It's sort of an homage / modern reinterpretation of the CD player.

I have a Zotac BI320 in another room driving a 52" TV. It's very very similar hardware to a Chromebox (2957U vs. 2955U). It runs Windows 8.1 (came with it) and OpenELEC. Despite Mfusick's beliefs about the power of the S2955U CPU, it runs Windows 8.1 just fine and is even pretty snappy. However, I rarely boot it into Windows 8.1 and use it for mainly for music playback and some video playback with OpenELEC.
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post #1060 of 1075 Old 02-15-2015, 08:55 AM - Thread Starter
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Your definition of "snappy" is a lot different than mine.

You also heavily rely on the aspect people will run Kodi or XBMC, for which the chromebox makes sense. But for just about everything else it does not.

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post #1061 of 1075 Old 02-15-2015, 09:20 AM
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Your definition of "snappy" is a lot different than mine.
How do you know that? You haven't tried using Windows 8.1 on a 2957U processor. I have. I've got more than one >4.0gHz i7 running Windows 7. It's not like I've never used a fast modern computer. Sure I wouldn't use it for video compression, but it is a responsive system. It's no Atom powered Netbook.
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post #1062 of 1075 Old 02-15-2015, 03:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post
A lot of folks do other stuff too- like download movies- manage - and a bunch of "PC" type of things on their HTPC. Especially for the "all in one" crowd... For a proper PC experience that runs windows and all kinds of software- you'd want something a bit more powerful and robust. But for a streamer only player a chromebox would be fine. I use both a HTPC and a ROKU, and I can see the advantages in both. But if I was going to bother setting up and installing software- configure and all that- I would not waste my time on something so weak as a chromebox. I could see myself doing a NUC with a SSD instead.... it would be an easy decision for me. That at least is a proper and full performance PC experience and worth the extra cost over the chromebox.
Your changing gears a lot and you arrive at a point that makes no sense whatsoever. If you want to do a bunch of "PC" type things then neither a Roku or a Chromebox will fit the bill

If you have a server or workstation and nas or some combination going where you want a great no-need-for-transcoding-device then the Chromebox fits the bill better than the roku

If you want to put something in your relatives house to playback your server content via plex or mb3 then the chromebox is a poor choice compared to roku, firetv, etc (unless you have massive upload and they have good enough download to direct stream - no need wasting the extra money otherwise as everything transcodes without proper up/down bandwidth)

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You also heavily rely on the aspect people will run Kodi or XBMC, for which the chromebox makes sense. But for just about everything else it does not.
This is the most airtight thing you said. Absolutely true. You can't single-boot windows on the chromebox, but you can set it up to boot OpenELEC only. With windows you'd have to dualboot and that just sucks. Windows also sucks as an HTPC imo, but if you have to use a windows htpc it's either for MadVR or WMC. Neither of those reasons are satisfied with a Roku, so we are back to the same exact point. If you want a full-blown htpc for WMC (because you have copy-once cable) or madvr then don't bother trying to relate any of this discussion to your needs If you want to add a box that plays back everything from you server without transcoding, does audio bitstreaming, lanczos upscaling, deinterlacing, refresh rate switching, and you have or can setup a pvr backend then you should definitely consider the chromebox and openelec for your frontend

Also, it was $104 back on BF. It was $130 a couple weeks back. Remember that includes RAM and SSD (and more than enough of both for running OpenELEC)
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post #1063 of 1075 Old 02-15-2015, 05:14 PM
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If you run an ESXi server with various virtual machines (win7 with WMC and the serverwmc app as one) and have multiple Openelec appliances (read NUC, Chromebox. or RPI2) as htpcs at multiple locations (instead of a Roku) and have an HD Homerun Prime on the network for cable duty, you really have a great cost effective solution. It doesn't require XBMC at all.

This includes being able to record and play shows from all Openelec htpcs to a single wmc record location.

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post #1064 of 1075 Old 02-15-2015, 06:58 PM
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you really have a great cost effective solution. It doesn't require XBMC at all
What? OpenELEC is XBMC (Kodi)
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post #1065 of 1075 Old 02-16-2015, 02:14 AM
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What? OpenELEC is XBMC (Kodi)
I should have said it doesn't need an "XBMC server".
WMC based server with OE clients.

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post #1066 of 1075 Old 02-16-2015, 05:52 AM - Thread Starter
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But a "server" program makes you cool. It's also a must have IMO. I'm less than zero percent interested in anything else. That's probably a source of our disagreement. Running Xbmc on weak sauce hardware ? Welcome to 2011 kids.... Just point it at your "nas" and go.... Lulz.

I absolutely love the advantages a "server" application brings- including superior scraping, renaming, media mgmt, transcoding, watch status sync, consistency across devices, support for single interface and product family on Roku/laptop/phone/tablet/HTPC. Steaming away from home, sync features, share media libraries or "server" with friends, easy set up and login via email/PW. The list goes on... And on...
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post #1067 of 1075 Old 02-16-2015, 06:35 AM
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But a "server" program makes you cool. It's also a must have IMO. I'm less than zero percent interested in anything else. That's probably a source of our disagreement. Running Xbmc on weak sauce hardware ? Welcome to 2011 kids.... Just point it at your "nas" and go.... Lulz.

I absolutely love the advantages a "server" application brings- including superior scraping, renaming, media mgmt, transcoding, watch status sync, consistency across devices, support for single interface and product family on Roku/laptop/phone/tablet/HTPC. Steaming away from home, sync features, share media libraries or "server" with friends, easy set up and login via email/PW. The list goes on... And on...
You've got that all backward, but it's okay. It's 2015. We're not dealing with devices that have very limited DLNA capabilities that need nearly everything transcoded for them. We have low cost & low power devices that will play back everything as is. We understand you'd rather degrade your content by transcoding it than watching it in it's original, pristine, unaltered glory. That's okay. We realize that not everyone is a discerning listener / viewer. There's nothing wrong with this, but there are people who do care who won't accept the compromises you have. Most of the "pros" you list are imaginary and can all be done with Kodi (XBMC) aside from transcoding (at low bitrates) for streaming over the Internet.

What is abundantly clear is that you're not here to learn something or even to share what you've learned, but to proselytize the rest of us into your narrow way of thinking by assuming everyone has the same needs, expectations, and use cases as you and the people who don't are uninformed and doing something wrong.


PS: Plex is a fork of XBMC.
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post #1068 of 1075 Old 02-16-2015, 06:44 AM
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You've got that all backward, but it's okay. It's 2015. We're not dealing with devices that have very limited DLNA capabilities that need nearly everything transcoded for them. We have low cost & low power devices that will play back everything as is. We understand you'd rather degrade your content by transcoding it than watching it in it's original, pristine, unaltered glory. That's okay. We realize that not everyone is a discerning listener / viewer. There's nothing wrong with this, but there are people who do care who won't accept the compromises you have. Most of the "pros" you list are imaginary and can all be done with Kodi (XBMC) aside from transcoding (at low bitrates) for streaming over the Internet.

What is abundantly clear is that you're not here to learn something or even to share what you've learned, but to proselytize the rest of us into your narrow way of thinking by assuming everyone has the same needs, expectations, and use cases as you and the people who don't are uninformed and doing something wrong.


PS: Plex is a fork of XBMC.
10,000+ posts and you've JUST realised that .................................
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post #1069 of 1075 Old 02-16-2015, 06:56 AM
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10,000+ posts and you've JUST realised that .................................
Sorry I was behind the times. I haven't spent a lot of time in this subforum previously so it's new to me.
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post #1070 of 1075 Old 02-16-2015, 07:42 AM - Thread Starter
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You've got that all backward, but it's okay. It's 2015. We're not dealing with devices that have very limited DLNA capabilities that need nearly everything transcoded for them. We have low cost & low power devices that will play back everything as is. We understand you'd rather degrade your content by transcoding it than watching it in it's original, pristine, unaltered glory. That's okay. We realize that not everyone is a discerning listener / viewer. There's nothing wrong with this, but there are people who do care who won't accept the compromises you have. Most of the "pros" you list are imaginary and can all be done with Kodi (XBMC) aside from transcoding (at low bitrates) for streaming over the Internet.

What is abundantly clear is that you're not here to learn something or even to share what you've learned, but to proselytize the rest of us into your narrow way of thinking by assuming everyone has the same needs, expectations, and use cases as you and the people who don't are uninformed and doing something wrong.


PS: Plex is a fork of XBMC.
We can agree to disagree. The days of tinkering with an HTPC to set up a cheap half-ass player box machine to play movies from a NAS is dead for me when I can buy a device at Costco for less money that requires a total investment of my time both learning and setting it up of under 5 minutes.

It's not the money- it's the time- that is important these days. If I am going to set up a HTPC box I'm not cheaping out on a chromebox because doing it again or regretting it isn't worth the trouble for the difference in cost to me. I'd be inclined to step up to a more capable NUC, or build a proper HTPC. I get that it's "cheap" and it can work for some stuff and that is the attraction but really the difference in cost is so miniscule when you factor in the time and the performance so it just doesn't have a lot of value to me. As soon as I start investing my time and my energy into something I want it to be awesome, otherwise it's not worth the trouble. So a Chromebox is stuck in the middle of no mans land to me. At under $100 I might be tempted but at the $160 I'm not.

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post #1071 of 1075 Old 02-16-2015, 08:19 AM
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I'd be inclined to step up to a more capable NUC
You mean like the DN2820FYKH NUC?

Frankly, this thread is hilarious. The premise of the thread as stated in the topic is how cheaply you can build a "decent" HTPC. The 2955U Chromebox is the new benchmark for a low cost play "anything" box, but you bash the Chromebox because there are some corner cases it can't handle. The same corner cases your proposed builds can't handle like high res HEVC or MVC (3D) content. Now you want to focus on playing back everything (no corner cases) and time spent messing with it, not the original topic of money. If that's your criteria a "decent" HTPC should basically be the most powerful CPU and video card you don't find anything it won't play.

I guess you should steer clear of this thread since you no longer agree with the premise under which it was started.
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post #1072 of 1075 Old 02-16-2015, 08:31 AM
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You mean like the DN2820FYKH NUC?

Frankly, this thread is hilarious. The premise of the thread as stated in the topic is how cheaply you can build a "decent" HTPC. The 2955U Chromebox is the new benchmark for a low cost play "anything" box, but you bash the Chromebox because there are some corner cases it can't handle. The same corner cases your proposed builds can't handle like high res HEVC or MVC (3D) content. Now you want to focus on playing back everything (no corner cases) and time spent messing with it, not the original topic of money. If that's your criteria a "decent" HTPC should basically be the most powerful CPU and video card you don't find anything it won't play.

I guess you should steer clear of this thread since you no longer agree with the premise under which it was started.
@Stereodude quit wasting your breath on @Mfusick man. He'll move the goal posts wherever he needs to to be right; or just act oblivious to anything that contradicts his views. All while putting down other peoples ideas/opinions. Most of us have learned this the hard way. Better to just ignore him and deal with all the other members of this forum. It's a lost cause, trust us.
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Last edited by staknhalo; 02-16-2015 at 08:41 AM.
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post #1073 of 1075 Old 02-16-2015, 08:39 AM - Thread Starter
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It's true I have advanced past where it was started from. That part is accurate. I learned a lot of lessons along the way, what I like and what I don't about HTPC. I think I've lost the passion for it. I just want my movie to play. That's really about it. I've got an i5 HTPC with fast SSD all set up on the main system, it runs madvr and all that. I like it. But 90% of the time I just want to watch something without any fuss. I love that mediabrowser server or plex server keep track of my "watched" status and let me share servers with friends. That way if I am in the ipad and watch something, and then pick up the ROKU in the living room and watch the next one I don't need to think too hard where I am at. Same when I move over to the theater/HTPC.

Although I have the ability to do 3D, madvr, MVC, HVEC or whatever.... on the HTPC it does not seem to matter much except for that critical viewing stuff which is not as often as it was before I had kids. I love the quality and super slickn eye candy of the HTPC with Mediabrowser (plex looks like turds) but even that takes a back seat in some ways. I just want my show to play. The end. Well perhaps not the end yet, I want it to play when I want it to play, and play it on whatever I want to play it on. Sometimes that's an ipad. Sometimes a HTPC, sometimes a ROKU, sometimes my phone, etc...

HTPC hobby is more about lifestyle for me these days. If I was going to spend the time setting something up, installing, buying hard ware etc... I am going all the way with it. You don't need to do that stuff these days just to watch a show. That was much of the basis of where I am coming from.

Honestly I tried the older raspi and found it so horrible at nearly everything I am scared to even try a weak sauce hipster box. It's not worth the set up time to meddle with it and find out it was a mistake. So yeah.. a more powerful NUC is more attractive to me, or a cheap HTPC build. I might or might not get a celeron or pentium NUC though- Passmark scores of 3000+ seem required to get snappy operation when using windows and software. That's something I would not mind paying a couple bucks for.

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post #1074 of 1075 Old 02-16-2015, 02:10 PM
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I really enjoyed the last few months on this forum when there seemed to be a distinct lack of condescending proselytizing.

Still amazes me that some people can't distinguish between "it isn't good for my needs" and "it simply isn't good"
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post #1075 of 1075 Old 02-16-2015, 06:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post
I absolutely love the advantages a "server" application brings- including superior scraping, renaming, media mgmt, transcoding, watch status sync, consistency across devices, support for single interface and product family on Roku/laptop/phone/tablet/HTPC. Steaming away from home, sync features, share media libraries or "server" with friends, easy set up and login via email/PW. The list goes on... And on...
That's where the MediaBrowser add-on for Kodi comes into play

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post
We can agree to disagree. The days of tinkering with an HTPC to set up a cheap half-ass player box machine to play movies from a NAS is dead for me when I can buy a device at Costco for less money that requires a total investment of my time both learning and setting it up of under 5 minutes.

It's not the money- it's the time- that is important these days. If I am going to set up a HTPC box I'm not cheaping out on a chromebox because doing it again or regretting it isn't worth the trouble for the difference in cost to me. I'd be inclined to step up to a more capable NUC, or build a proper HTPC
I still have a cheap player-box to play movies from my server without transcoding. I'd probably go with a Pi2 since on those builds I don't need hd-audio bitstreaming, but I may never go that direction if the MB3 guys can't get the experience working smoothly there. In the case of the mb3 add-on a lot of python crunching takes place. The chromebox could do it fine, but the pi doesn't. Not that it couldn't but the version of python it runs combined with it's single thread performance hinders it's ability to run a library replacement via python add-on. If they were able to integrate the upnp to native library aspect (which a Kodi dev has worked on before and still has more to flesh out, some newcomers with interest in mb3 and kodi may be able to bring it along faster) then the Pi2 would be the hands down choice outside of audio bitstreaming and slightly higher profile video. Until that day comes the chromebox is the Kodi machine to beat (android TV has a lot going for it as well though)

What would stepping up to a NUC get you for the scenario we were talking about? (The scenario, in case memory isn't serving well, was your secondary / third / fourth displays in the house using a chromebox booting OpenELEC (kodi) w/ mediabrowser add-on instead of a Roku and transcoding all of your content all over the house)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stereodude View Post
PS: Plex is a fork of XBMC.
Yeah, I've tried to show that a few times. Only the player though. Every single aspect of playback in Plex HT (windows) is equal to Kodi (except for the areas where Kodi has improved and Plex hasn't rebased their software with the upgrades). The server management portion of Plex is a separate and closed source application
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