Hi folks. I'm in the process of setting up an unRAID server (my first ever build) and am already thinking ahead to an HTPC as my next project. Right now I watch my saved movies and TV shows through a dlna blu ray player which works well enough except for no HD audio, limited subtitle support, and a simple folder list only for a UI. So I want an openELEC HTPC to upgrade that experience and I have a few questions to narrow down what exactly I should be looking for.
1) HW requirements for HD Audio? I'm eyeing a mini ITX build and don't want to bother with a graphics card so am I correct if I go the Intel route that any sandy or ivy bridge processor w/it's integrated graphics should be up to the task? I'm leaning towards the Celeron G1610 but just want to make sure that will work
2) Remote control? My understanding if I want to control it through my Harmony 650 (including powering on and off since I'd rather not leave it on 24/7) is that I need a board with a CIR header + compatible IR receiver or with a USB port that's always powered on + USB IR receiver. Is this correct and does anyone have an opinon on the merits of one over the other (CIR vs. USB)?
3) Best formats for playback? Right now I save all my movie rips via Handbrake as H264 MKV, and save my shows recorded from Tivo as H264 MKV too, because that's what my player will play. But if I decide with an HTPC that I want to play back full blu ray rips instead then is it the ISO that I'd be playing, or does XBMC play it directly from the BDMV folder, or what? For now I've been keeping my rips on a separate USB storage and saving only the MKVs to my NAS to save space on it, but with a lot more storage space coming online via the unRAID server I'm trying to decide if I should move over all the BDMV folders and ISOs too or if I even should be keeping them at all if if I'm just going to continue playing MKVs instead. (Side question too: I use DVDFab to rip which saves a "mini-ISO". Is that a full ISO of the movie or something else?) I'm keeping all these things thinking they'll have some use with an HTPC but I don't know.
4) BD playback? I've been thinking all along I want an HTPC with a blu ray drive so that I can simply retire the blu ray player I already have and reduce clutter. But is blu ray playback even supported in openELEC? I don't want some plugin like MakeMKV to rip and then play the file, I want to be able to actually play any disk I put in just like it was on my player (and I'd rather not shell out another $80-100 for some special media player software either). So does that leave me any options or should I just resign myself that if I want to play disks I'm going to have to keep the blu ray player after all?
Thanks in advance for any feedback.