Any reason why a Surface Pro tablet wouldn't work to play back MKVs from a NAS? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 01-19-2013, 03:15 PM - Thread Starter
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My primary HTPC is where I watch most of my movies, using Windows 7, Media Browser and MPC-HC. My library is comprised exclusively of lossless-quality Blu-rays with DTS-HD / TrueHD audio tracks.

Although the Surface RT (which is not a full Windows implementation) was for the most part panned in reviews, the forthcoming Surface Pro appears to right all of the wrongs, and looks to be a very interesting piece of hardware.

What I'd like to do is have a simpler/portable PC in the bedroom that I can use to access my library while exercising. I would ideally like to hook it up via HDMI directly to the TV in the bedroom (there is no A/V receiver there for decoding surround sound.)

As a full-fledged PC running Windows 8, would there be any issues with using a Surface Pro for such a purpose? Like the RT, it has a Mini-DisplayPort out (I can get an adapter to go HDMI), wireless-n networking, and a USB port, which I probably wouldn't need.

I know Media Browser has recently been updated to work with Windows 8, so that's not a concern. The only two issues I could foresee are:

• Without an A/V receiver, will I have issues decoding the HD audio tracks in my MKV rips? I understand that all HD audio tracks also include a standard "core" track for playback on devices like my TV that don't have HD audio decoding capability, but will it require a different player than MPC-HC, like TMT 5, or can MPC-HC handle it?

• Will the Surface's wireless a/b/g/n connection be sufficient to stream a 1080p HD movie without dropouts? I'm using a pretty great ASUS RT-N66U wireless router, and the distance from it to the bedroom is only about 50 feet, with no walls in between.

The Surface Pro has a native HD screen resolution of 1920x1080, so I imagine the video components in the unit are fairly strong.

-R

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post #2 of 10 Old 01-19-2013, 03:30 PM
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As I understand it, Windows 8 'metro' apps are limited to a few codecs. One way to get around that is using the Windows 8 Plex app, which will transcode files from your server on the fly into a compatible format. This is CPU intensive though. The Windows 8 Pro tablet is a normal x86 laptop, so you should be able to run regular applications like XBMC, Plex Media Center, WMC, etc.

Wireless is not reliable for a high quality 1080p video.

Your goals are a bit curious. IMO, you're better off keeping something connected to the TV all time (with a wired network connection to your NAS). The Intel NUC is an interesting option that has recently cropped up. Otherwise your basic HTPC or some other content streaming device is a good option.
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post #3 of 10 Old 01-19-2013, 03:33 PM - Thread Starter
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I don't plan on using the Metro side for anything, for what it's worth. I'd use it almost exclusively in Desktop mode, and would plan on installing LAV Filters like I have on my main HTPC.

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post #4 of 10 Old 01-19-2013, 03:35 PM - Thread Starter
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Oh, and I'm considering the Surface for this purpose precisely because I *wouldn't* have to keep it connected to the TV all time. When I'm finished, I'd just unplug it and can take it with me as a laptop and/or tablet replacement when I'm not exercising.

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post #5 of 10 Old 01-19-2013, 03:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rsinclair View Post

I don't plan on using the Metro side for anything, for what it's worth. I'd use it almost exclusively in Desktop mode, and would plan on installing LAV Filters like I have on my main HTPC.

Regardless, I think you're still going to want to hard wire it if you want to stream high quality 1080p video. It doesn't come with ethernet, so I guess you could use a USB 3.0 to ethernet adapter. Then you have an ethernet cable (with adapter), HDMI cable, and probably a power cable sticking out of your Surface Pro anytime you want to watch a movie. It would work but it's very awkward IMO.
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post #6 of 10 Old 01-19-2013, 04:21 PM - Thread Starter
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Yeah, I'm sure it will be a little unwieldy with the cables hanging out, but the benefit of having access to not only my entire movie library but also a full-fledged computer for web surfing or gaming while I'm on the exercise bike would override the lack of elegance. Perhaps Microsoft will release a docking station for the Surface at some point which would clean things up a bit. I'll see how the wireless works, but I'm sure you're right that I'll probably need to hard wire it with an USB ethernet adapter.

Just wanted to determine if there were any *technical* reasons why such a setup wouldn't work.

-R

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post #7 of 10 Old 01-19-2013, 04:30 PM
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For what it's worth, you can stream video from an Intel Core i based laptop to your TV using a push2TV adapter like this one. That would eliminate the HDMI cable but then you've doubled the wireless (i.e., from your Nas to your Surface Pro, and then from your Surface Pro to the TV).
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post #8 of 10 Old 01-20-2013, 09:22 AM
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Theoretically it should work. I can stream full BR rips to my laptop using wireless N. Assuming Microsoft puts good networking hardware in the surface it should work. As a full fledged laptop it should also have the hardware to play your rips. You notice that there are a lot of should's, and ifs in my short answer. Thats because we don't know what it can do yet. If you really have your heart set on one of these tablets for other reasons also, just get it. Try it with your usual playback methods. If it doesn't work you could always fall back to Plex as already suggested.
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post #9 of 10 Old 01-20-2013, 09:59 AM
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I was thinking about how W8 tablets (not just the surface) would work for mobile HTPC duties the other day. Is there any reason that I can't load MPC-HC onto it and just load some MKV movies onto a flash drive? I'm not familiar with win8 and I don't know how hard it would be to use programs on a tablet that don't have tiles. Could you get media center on the pro tablet version?

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post #10 of 10 Old 01-20-2013, 04:09 PM
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From what I've read (going by memory here), Surface tablets have superior wireless performance to most tablets out there.
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