If you could design the perfect HTPC frontend software, what would it look like? - AVS Forum
Forum Jump: 
 
Thread Tools
Old 05-03-2012, 03:04 PM - Thread Starter
Advanced Member
 
James_stewart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Portland
Posts: 500
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
I understand that the things that are important to me, are not necessarily import to others. But IMO here are the features I would love in an HTPC frontend software program.
  • It needs to be lightning fast. Very quick load times and no lag when scrolling through menus. The movie jukebox portion should be a breeze to scroll through even if you have 2000+ movies. No missing thumbnails or stubborn cache files.
  • User friendly setup. No "edit this xml" or "try this code" All setup features must be accessible via a menu with extensive control over look, feel, and function.
  • Must support digital audio and bluray
  • Must have extender options to allow different computers to access movies, tv, music, and pictures. Extender options would also allow access from an Ipad, iPhone, or Android device. This would include Live TV streaming or movie file streaming.
  • Must support TV tuners. WMC7 has the best TV tuner setup I've experienced with the smoothest EPG and control over recordings. There is however that dreaded .WTV video format, which in an ideal setup I would replace with an MKV file format. The "ideal" software would also allow for commercial removal during playback for storage purposes. Which takes me to the next feature I would like to see.
  • A sophisticated and smart organizer that takes recorded tv shows, automatically scrapes metadata, organizes, categorizes, and renames files without having to leave the software interface. This would be true for files that are added to the server as well. The software would also give the user the option to store the metadata within the folder containing the movie or tv show, akin to programs like Media Center Master. This would be convenient if you have movies that you want to customize the cases or fanart, and plan on doing a reinstall or you move files around a lot.
  • An array of options when it comes to the program's look and feel. It would support an array of skins that allow the user to customize the look.
  • The option to access your movie server from an iPad, iPhone, or Android device and control playback like a remote. XBMC Commander does this very well. It allows you to browse through your movies, play trailers, and start the movie on your tv from the device. Once the movie is started the iPad becomes a controller. You can turn off subtitles, change audio streams, etc.
  • The ability to control all inplay features from a remote. Subtitles, audio streams, etc.
  • Obviously remote control support with an option to map remote buttons. Must work with Harmony remotes.
  • The option to install as standalone software for a device intended to function only as an extender to the main server.
  • Support for sites like Netflix, Hulu, etc
  • Voice command control...why not?
  • (From Lars99)To me, the holy grail is a singular interface that shows my local media and the media choices from all the websites that I choose; Netflix, Hulu, etc... I don't want to access them through a separate plugin or resource. I want to choose between every movie and tv show that I have access to
  • One more idea: Scrolling twitter feed while watching a live tv show or event. Designated hashtags for the show keep a live feed going.

Like I said, this is MY ideal frontend software. What would you like to see in yours?
James_stewart is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
Old 05-03-2012, 03:13 PM
Senior Member
 
Lars99's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 298
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
To me, the holy grail is a singular interface that shows my local media and the media choices from all the websites that I choose; Netflix, Hulu, etc... I don't want to access them through a separate plugin or resource. I want to choose between every movie and tv show that I have access to.
Lars99 is offline  
Old 05-03-2012, 03:22 PM - Thread Starter
Advanced Member
 
James_stewart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Portland
Posts: 500
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lars99 View Post

To me, the holy grail is a singular interface that shows my local media and the media choices from all the websites that I choose; Netflix, Hulu, etc... I don't want to access them through a separate plugin or resource. I want to choose between every movie and tv show that I have access to.


That sounds cool. Definitely would make accessing online media much easier.

I'll add that to the list.
James_stewart is offline  
Old 05-03-2012, 04:21 PM
AVS Special Member
 
lockdown571's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 1,623
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Liked: 59
Google TV was suppose to do a lot of this, including the last part. Unfortunately it's not there yet. I really think HTPC's will become an even smaller niche once set-top boxes become faster and more functional. It still seems like a while off though. I hope google doesn't abandon the project, because it has a lot of potential. I tried a Sony google TV box (the NSZ-GT1), but its biggest problem was that it was too darn slow.
lockdown571 is offline  
Old 05-03-2012, 04:26 PM
Senior Member
 
kesawi's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Posts: 330
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 28 Post(s)
Liked: 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by James_stewart View Post

The option to access your movie server from an iPad, iPhone, or Android device and control playback like a remote. XBMC Commander does this very well. It allows you to browse through your movies, play trailers, and start the movie on your tv from the device. Once the movie is started the iPad becomes a controller. You can turn off subtitles, change audio streams, etc.

Need to option to watch movies, TV recordings, and live TV from the server on the iPad, iPhone or Android. Also to be able to watch it from a DLNA enabled device with on the fly transcoding (yes I know a cheap dedicted HTPC for each TV in the house is the ideal solution but why add extra devices if you can get away with it).

For those of us with children, parental control over content is something that is important, not only on a content basis but also by device.

kesawi is offline  
Old 05-03-2012, 04:29 PM - Thread Starter
Advanced Member
 
James_stewart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Portland
Posts: 500
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by kesawi View Post

Need to option to watch movies, TV recordings, and live TV from the server on the iPad, iPhone or Android. Also to be able to watch it from a DLNA enabled device with on the fly transcoding (yes I know a cheap dedicted HTPC for each TV in the house is the ideal solution but why add extra devices if you can get away with it).

For those of us with children, parental control over content is something that is important, not only on a content basis but also by device.

Yes I included this in there somewhere. Live streaming to ipad or extender devices.
James_stewart is offline  
Old 05-03-2012, 04:40 PM
AVS Special Member
 
lockdown571's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 1,623
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Liked: 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by kesawi View Post

Need to option to watch movies, TV recordings, and live TV from the server on the iPad, iPhone or Android. Also to be able to watch it from a DLNA enabled device with on the fly transcoding (yes I know a cheap dedicted HTPC for each TV in the house is the ideal solution but why add extra devices if you can get away with it).

Are you familiar with Plex? It does exactly this, just not for live TV.
lockdown571 is offline  
Old 05-03-2012, 04:43 PM - Thread Starter
Advanced Member
 
James_stewart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Portland
Posts: 500
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by lockdown571 View Post

Are you familiar with Plex? It does exactly this, just not for live TV.

yeah, but streaming live TV is so necessary for some of us
James_stewart is offline  
Old 05-03-2012, 04:44 PM
AVS Special Member
 
jhoff80's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 4,227
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 141 Post(s)
Liked: 202
I've said this already, but for me the best frontend software would be Windows 8, but only if Windows Media Center was heavily modified.

All they have to do is split out the parts to be pinnable to the Start screen, so I could pin Recorded TV, Live TV, Guide, etc. to the Start screen. Then I'd have a heavily configurable user interface that would look great on the TV, but also let me install apps for third-party content. For example, in my mind we've got a much better chances of seeing a Spotify Metro-style app (or any other service of that sort) than we do of seeing a Spotify Windows Media Center plugin. Just do that and make everything fully controllable by remote, and it would be perfect for me.

XBL/Steam: JHoff80
jhoff80 is online now  
Old 05-03-2012, 04:44 PM
AVS Special Member
 
lockdown571's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 1,623
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Liked: 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by James_stewart View Post

yeah, but streaming live TV is so necessary for some of us

Definitely. Too bad we won't see live TV in Plex anywhere in the near future.
lockdown571 is offline  
Old 05-03-2012, 05:02 PM
Senior Member
 
Lars99's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 298
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by lockdown571 View Post

Google TV was suppose to do a lot of this, including the last part. Unfortunately it's not there yet. I really think HTPC's will become an even smaller niche once set-top boxes become faster and more functional. It still seems like a while off though. I hope google doesn't abandon the project, because it has a lot of potential. I tried a Sony google TV box (the NSZ-GT1), but its biggest problem was that it was too darn slow.

The biggest problem with the googletv is that most every content provider has blocked access.
Lars99 is offline  
Old 05-03-2012, 05:12 PM - Thread Starter
Advanced Member
 
James_stewart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Portland
Posts: 500
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by jhoff80 View Post

I've said this already, but for me the best frontend software would be Windows 8, but only if Windows Media Center was heavily modified.

All they have to do is split out the parts to be pinnable to the Start screen, so I could pin Recorded TV, Live TV, Guide, etc. to the Start screen. Then I'd have a heavily configurable user interface that would look great on the TV, but also let me install apps for third-party content. For example, in my mind we've got a much better chances of seeing a Spotify Metro-style app (or any other service of that sort) than we do of seeing a Spotify Windows Media Center plugin. Just do that and make everything fully controllable by remote, and it would be perfect for me.

This sounds so cool. So instead of having a frontend, Windows 8 desktop would in itself be a frontend that allows you to install apps and shows you your media. I like it.
James_stewart is offline  
Old 05-03-2012, 05:36 PM
AVS Special Member
 
Sammy2's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Right next to Wineville, CA
Posts: 9,846
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 123 Post(s)
Liked: 190
Quote:
Originally Posted by lockdown571 View Post

Google TV was suppose to do a lot of this, including the last part. Unfortunately it's not there yet. I really think HTPC's will become an even smaller niche once set-top boxes become faster and more functional. It still seems like a while off though. I hope google doesn't abandon the project, because it has a lot of potential. I tried a Sony google TV box (the NSZ-GT1), but its biggest problem was that it was too darn slow.

The problem with set top boxes is DRM and the likes limits what they can play back.

Sammy2 is offline  
Old 05-03-2012, 05:53 PM
AVS Special Member
 
lockdown571's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 1,623
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Liked: 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sammy2 View Post


The problem with set top boxes is DRM and the likes limits what they can play back.

Well the Sony can play blu-ray discs. It can also playback blu-ray rips if you remove the drm first (using makemkv for example), which is what many htpc users do anyway. The only thing it doesn't do is play full bluray ISO/folders.
lockdown571 is offline  
Old 05-03-2012, 05:58 PM
Senior Member
 
Thrillho's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Halifax,NS
Posts: 358
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3 Post(s)
Liked: 31
For me XBMC is getting close. All they need (IMHO) is:

- Improve\\perfect live TV\\PVR
- Better implementation of external filters\
enderers
- a more streamlined client\\server solution for whole home sharing including play states for resuming where you left off.
- jRiver type audio options (multi-zone, room correction,etc)
- A better way of modifying skins than .xml editing. Every skin I fall in love with has one drawback or another that keeps me looking. Whether it's a missing view type or a poor OSD.

I've spent a ton of time with it since Eden final came out and I'm very impressed. I've completely migrated from WMC\\MB and haven't looked back.
Thrillho is offline  
Old 05-03-2012, 06:03 PM - Thread Starter
Advanced Member
 
James_stewart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Portland
Posts: 500
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thrillho View Post

For me XBMC is getting close. All they need (IMHO) is:

- Improve\\perfect live TV\\PVR
- Better implementation of external filters\
enderers
- a more streamlined client\\server solution for whole home sharing including play states for resuming where you left off.
- jRiver type audio options (multi-zone, room correction,etc)
- A better way of modifying skins than .xml editing. Every skin I fall in love with has one drawback or another that keeps me looking. Whether it's a missing view type or a poor OSD.

I've spent a ton of time with it since Eden final came out and I'm very impressed. I've completely migrated from WMC\\MB and haven't looked back.

Same here. I just recently made the transition and I'm loving it. It's brought back my enthusiasm for HTPCs once again. In fact I'm now building a new SSD HTPC next week.

I agree that the skin modification needs some work. There are features in every skin that I like, and not one single skin that has them all. I'm sure this is common.

About the Live TV features, which plugin are you using. I have yet to mess with this part of XBMC, as I'm expecting it to be a pain in the a**. Can you tell me more about this.
James_stewart is offline  
Old 05-03-2012, 06:11 PM - Thread Starter
Advanced Member
 
James_stewart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Portland
Posts: 500
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
One more idea: Scrolling twitter feed while watching a live tv show or event. Designated hashtags for the show keep a live feed going.
James_stewart is offline  
Old 05-03-2012, 07:29 PM
Senior Member
 
Thrillho's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Halifax,NS
Posts: 358
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3 Post(s)
Liked: 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by James_stewart View Post

Same here. I just recently made the transition and I'm loving it. It's brought back my enthusiasm for HTPCs once again. In fact I'm now building a new SSD HTPC next week.

I agree that the skin modification needs some work. There are features in every skin that I like, and not one single skin that has them all. I'm sure this is common.

About the Live TV features, which plugin are you using. I have yet to mess with this part of XBMC, as I'm expecting it to be a pain in the a**. Can you tell me more about this.

I actually don't use it for live tv, I'm in Canada and we have pitiful OTA and no cable card whatsoever, only option for HD is an STB so I cut the cord. Just figuring that would help it become the "perfect" media center.
Thrillho is offline  
Old 05-03-2012, 07:39 PM
Member
 
Olias88's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 85
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 12
...SageTV was well on the way of having most of the items on your list until they were "Googled".
Olias88 is offline  
Old 05-03-2012, 08:54 PM
AVS Special Member
 
gtgray's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 3,439
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 39 Post(s)
Liked: 55
Once J River is supporting cable card tuners then it will become the ultimate Swiss Army knife. The development pace of that software is relentess.

Just another blank signature.
gtgray is offline  
Old 05-03-2012, 08:57 PM
AVS Special Member
 
jhoff80's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 4,227
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 141 Post(s)
Liked: 202
Quote:
Originally Posted by gtgray View Post

Once J River is supporting cable card tuners...

...Good luck on getting CableLabs to certify that.

XBL/Steam: JHoff80
jhoff80 is online now  
Old 05-03-2012, 09:01 PM - Thread Starter
Advanced Member
 
James_stewart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Portland
Posts: 500
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by gtgray View Post

Once J River is supporting cable card tuners then it will become the ultimate Swiss Army knife. The development pace of that software is relentess.

how does it handle a simple OTA tuner like HDHomerun or the hauppauge 1600? Is it as easy and functional as WMC7
James_stewart is offline  
Old 05-03-2012, 10:34 PM
Member
 
LoneAspen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 197
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 11
My needs are simple:

- Play 1080p 24fps ripped Blu-ray content from ISO, folder structure, or MKV.
- Bitstream "core" and HD audio, including DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD.
- Have a reasonably user-friendly interface, that makes it easy to add sources and scroll through playlist. I don't require a flashy eye-candy interface. I'd rather have a basic usable interface, with development time spent on making the other requirements actually WORK.
- Handle subtitles (in ALL forms) flawlessly. And I mean FLAWLESSLY, just like a hardware BD player. Whether they're embedded in video, marked as forced, or however else subtitles are encoded, they should JUST WORK.

That's it. If I could find something that just does those things, and does them well, I'd be happy.
LoneAspen is offline  
Old 05-04-2012, 01:50 AM
Senior Member
 
kesawi's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Posts: 330
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 28 Post(s)
Liked: 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by lockdown571 View Post

Are you familiar with Plex? It does exactly this, just not for live TV.

I knew Plex works well with tablets but I didn't realise it could stream to DLNA enabled TVs. I've been using serviio for this task so I might give the Plex media server a test and see how it goes.

I'm pleasantly surprised how well the i3 handles transcoding multiple video streams on the fly to various other devices, play back via HDMI and running quite a few other services all at the same time.

kesawi is offline  
Old 05-04-2012, 01:53 AM - Thread Starter
Advanced Member
 
James_stewart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Portland
Posts: 500
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by kesawi View Post

I knew Plex works well with tablets but I didn't realise it could stream to DLNA enabled TVs. I've been using serviio for this task so I might give the Plex media server a test and see how it goes.

I'm pleasantly surprised how well the i3 handles transcoding multiple video streams on the fly to various other devices, play back via HDMI and running quite a few other services all at the same time.

This is good to hear. I just ordered an i3-2100 and was worried if perhaps I should've went with the 2500k instead.
James_stewart is offline  
Old 05-04-2012, 07:48 AM
AVS Special Member
 
lockdown571's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 1,623
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Liked: 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by kesawi View Post

I knew Plex works well with tablets but I didn't realise it could stream to DLNA enabled TVs. I've been using serviio for this task so I might give the Plex media server a test and see how it goes.

I'm pleasantly surprised how well the i3 handles transcoding multiple video streams on the fly to various other devices, play back via HDMI and running quite a few other services all at the same time.

Fyi, the DLNA function just came out and is in beta. Also, there are only profiles for a few devices right now. It's coming, but it's not quite there yet. It's kind of amazing what they're doing though. For instance, on the PS3 and Xbox 360 (and other devices presumably), it presents posters. It also organizes TV shows with season folders, etc.
lockdown571 is offline  
Old 05-04-2012, 11:11 AM
AVS Special Member
 
gtgray's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 3,439
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 39 Post(s)
Liked: 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by James_stewart View Post

how does it handle a simple OTA tuner like HDHomerun or the hauppauge 1600? Is it as easy and functional as WMC7

HD Homerun works great. I have two hooked up. I don'tt use a Hauppage but I believe they are supported.

Just another blank signature.
gtgray is offline  
Old 05-04-2012, 05:00 PM - Thread Starter
Advanced Member
 
James_stewart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Portland
Posts: 500
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by gtgray View Post

HD Homerun works great. I have two hooked up. I don'tt use a Hauppage but I believe they are supported.

I will certainly try the JRiver software this weekend. I'll see how many of these things I can check off my above list. Any idea what kind of metadata I need for the JRiver? I just spent the past week updating my metadata so that it's recognized by XBMC. I'd hate to have to redo it all.
James_stewart is offline  
Old 05-04-2012, 08:03 PM
AVS Special Member
 
Suntan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Twin Cities
Posts: 7,142
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 38 Post(s)
Liked: 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Olias88 View Post

...SageTV was well on the way of having most of the items on your list until they were "Googled".

Actually, Sagetv is/was able to do all of that. Although some of it was 3rd party plugin and a little janky as a result (required the use of Play On to access Netflix/Hulu) but there were sage plugins that made it possible to sort your Netflix queue in with your recorded and ripped media.

-Suntan
Suntan is offline  
Old 05-04-2012, 08:25 PM
AVS Special Member
 
Sammy2's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Right next to Wineville, CA
Posts: 9,846
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 123 Post(s)
Liked: 190
Quote:
Originally Posted by James_stewart View Post


I will certainly try the JRiver software this weekend. I'll see how many of these things I can check off my above list. Any idea what kind of metadata I need for the JRiver? I just spent the past week updating my metadata so that it's recognized by XBMC. I'd hate to have to redo it all.

It has its own scraper

Sammy2 is offline  
 
Thread Tools


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off