How can I simply my HTPC experience? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 12-02-2012, 11:07 AM - Thread Starter
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I have a Windows 7 HTPC with a 4-tuner Ceton CableCard PCIe card. I built this nearly two years ago in an Antec HTPC case that came bundled with an iMON remote control and related sensor. I have an RF20 universal remote control (with the iMON software emulating an WMC remote) and I use one of the WMC remote profiles programmed into the RF20.

I have no complaints about my Live TV and DVR experience. My problem is that I frequently have to flip to my remote keyboard/mouse and fire up a browser session for some of the streaming services I use (namely Amazon Instant Video, Pandora, HBO Go, and Spotify). To the extent possible I would rather not flip to the keyboard/mouse because my easy chair is a hair out of range from the sensor, and my luddite wife relies on my being there for these services (I don't say that as an insult – we have different attitudes on technology).

Any tips on how to change how I'm using these services to simply my life?

Amazon – I usually end up launching a browser session and use the browse the “regular” amazon site until I find what we want to watch. The browser isn't always easy to see across the room.

Pandora – I had this going fine through XBMC until about a month or so ago. It seems it breaks every few months and someone needs releases a patch to make it work. I probably need to wipe everything with this script as I can't get it run for more than a couple songs before it cuts out.

HBO Go – see Amazon. The font is small regardless of what I do.

Spotify – I only recently signed up for this service, so my experience is limited. I tried SpotiMC, and it's not quite what I want. One feature we really enjoy is the radio feature (similar to how Pandora works), but SpotiMC does not include this feature. I imagine there is a way to launch the Spotify app from WMC, but we would need the keyboard/mouse again.

I've also tried using the apps like UniversalRemote that turn my android devices into keyboard/mouse; but the process is just too clunky.

Is there anything I can do to avoid switching input devices? Any way to streamline and maintain the “10 foot interface” ? Am I asking for too much?

I'm willing to consider new apps, a remote upgrade, or anything else. Also, I also recently invested in a micro HDMI cable for my android tablet to connect to my AV receiver. I may just give up with Spotify on WMC and stream from my android tablet. I can't get the Amazon Instant Video app ripped from the Kindle Fire to work, but that's a completely different topic!
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post #2 of 8 Old 12-02-2012, 11:21 AM
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Most sensors are USB devices. Use a long USB extension cable and place the sensor closer to your couch.
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post #3 of 8 Old 12-02-2012, 01:00 PM
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The TiVo slide remote is bluetooth so the range should be better. I have not tried this personally.

http://thedigitalmediazone.com/2012/04/27/using-a-tivo-slide-remote-with-windows-media-center/
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post #4 of 8 Old 12-02-2012, 01:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nonsequituridea View Post

I have a Windows 7 HTPC with a 4-tuner Ceton CableCard PCIe card. I built this nearly two years ago in an Antec HTPC case that came bundled with an iMON remote control and related sensor. I have an RF20 universal remote control (with the iMON software emulating an WMC remote) and I use one of the WMC remote profiles programmed into the RF20.
I have no complaints about my Live TV and DVR experience. My problem is that I frequently have to flip to my remote keyboard/mouse and fire up a browser session for some of the streaming services I use (namely Amazon Instant Video, Pandora, HBO Go, and Spotify). To the extent possible I would rather not flip to the keyboard/mouse because my easy chair is a hair out of range from the sensor, and my luddite wife relies on my being there for these services (I don't say that as an insult – we have different attitudes on technology).
Any tips on how to change how I'm using these services to simply my life?
Amazon – I usually end up launching a browser session and use the browse the “regular” amazon site until I find what we want to watch. The browser isn't always easy to see across the room.
Pandora – I had this going fine through XBMC until about a month or so ago. It seems it breaks every few months and someone needs releases a patch to make it work. I probably need to wipe everything with this script as I can't get it run for more than a couple songs before it cuts out.
HBO Go – see Amazon. The font is small regardless of what I do.
Spotify – I only recently signed up for this service, so my experience is limited. I tried SpotiMC, and it's not quite what I want. One feature we really enjoy is the radio feature (similar to how Pandora works), but SpotiMC does not include this feature. I imagine there is a way to launch the Spotify app from WMC, but we would need the keyboard/mouse again.
I've also tried using the apps like UniversalRemote that turn my android devices into keyboard/mouse; but the process is just too clunky.
Is there anything I can do to avoid switching input devices? Any way to streamline and maintain the “10 foot interface” ? Am I asking for too much?
I'm willing to consider new apps, a remote upgrade, or anything else. Also, I also recently invested in a micro HDMI cable for my android tablet to connect to my AV receiver. I may just give up with Spotify on WMC and stream from my android tablet. I can't get the Amazon Instant Video app ripped from the Kindle Fire to work, but that's a completely different topic!

Get a Roku for your streaming services. It's cheap and SO much easier than Windows

Looky here!
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post #5 of 8 Old 12-02-2012, 08:56 PM
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+1

No need to use a PC for streaming services when good, simple, cheap streaming boxes abound, like Roku or just about any blu-ray player. I realize a lot of people want their PC to do it all, but it just doesn't work very well.

No need to fear switching input devices. Any universal remote makes that trivial. It can even happen automatically with HDMI-CEC if you prefer.


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post #6 of 8 Old 12-03-2012, 05:32 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the feedback. I'll look into a USB extension cord.

I have been eyeing up a Roku box for a while. I have been holding back mostly on principle - the HTPC *should* do it just as well (but it just doesn't). I already have an older Samsung BluRay, only has Netflix though.

I were doing this all over again today I would I would probably keep the cable Co DVR. The current on demand services (I can't get right now) and the expanded capacity DVRs make much of my complaints from 2 years ago moot.
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post #7 of 8 Old 12-04-2012, 12:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nonsequituridea View Post

I have been eyeing up a Roku box for a while. I have been holding back mostly on principle - the HTPC *should* do it just as well (but it just doesn't). I already have an older Samsung BluRay, only has Netflix though.

Yes, it SHOULD, but it unfortunately it doesn't. The Rokus are solid, cheap, and simple.

Looky here!
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post #8 of 8 Old 12-04-2012, 02:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robnix View Post

Yes, it SHOULD, but it unfortunately it doesn't. The Rokus are solid, cheap, and simple.

I second the advice on getting a cheap streaming box. The thing with PCs is that....well, they are PCs and people use them for many many things. The OS's (with the exception of win 8) are really made with a 2 foot interface rather than a 10 ft one. Some people have videos as mkv, some have avi's etc etc. The streaming boxes usually have only a small number of processes they perform and are built specifically for those uses negating much of the clutter, and much of the troubleshooting involved with HTPC.

Even though I've spent hours setting up my pc with xbmc, media center master, spent more hours finding nice artwork, reorganizing stuff it still doesn't always do what I want it to do. Updates invariably screw with stuff that used to work properly and then when those issues are patched they cause other problems.

IMHO if you don't like playing with this stuff, HTPCs are not for you. If you are the only person in your home that can use the system and are constantly having to help others do simple stuff like get subtitles on a movie...HTPCs are probably not for you.

A HDD and a WDlive tv box/roku/apple/bluray player/whatever else should suffice if all you want to do is access some streaming content and play some movies you have on HDDs. It will be more stable and you don't have to worry about updates crashing the system.

I could save money by getting a tv card and getting rid of my tivo but when I turn on my tv to watch tv...I just want it to work ALL THE TIME.

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