So what is new, anything ? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 06-27-2013, 12:24 PM - Thread Starter
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What is new ? We have been praising the HTPC for years now, so what is new. One area of an HTPC I was interested in was music, but alas nobody cared. So whats the draw today? When there are boxes out there that do almost all the media streaming.

Please don't take this as a bash, I have been using an "HTPC" since 2001.
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post #2 of 9 Old 06-27-2013, 12:32 PM
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I am not sure I understand what you are asking.

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post #3 of 9 Old 06-27-2013, 12:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ratite View Post

What is new ? We have been praising the HTPC for years now, so what is new. One area of an HTPC I was interested in was music, but alas nobody cared. So whats the draw today? When there are boxes out there that do almost all the media streaming.

Please don't take this as a bash, I have been using an "HTPC" since 2001.

My experience is that there are boxes that can do most things, but never all things.

For example, I can get a ROKU 3 for $100 +/-, and I can stream Amazon, Hulu Plus, Netflix, etc, but I can't stream an uncompressed HD movie with HD audio in an .MKV container with an unmolested picture and HD audio bitstreaming.

I also can't play PC games in 1080p from said ROKU.

Sure, it's more expensive, but you can do it for a relatively low dollar amount these days.

It really seems that the only company trying to destroy the HTPC market is Microsoft.

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post #4 of 9 Old 06-27-2013, 01:27 PM - Thread Starter
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"I am not sure I understand what you are asking"

Whats changed ? Is it still the same front ends: Media Center, XBMC, Media Portal, JR River. Anything new with blu-ray ripping, any new front ends, any new TV capture cards (HDMI). All this still the same as 3 years ago?
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post #5 of 9 Old 06-27-2013, 02:53 PM
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Flame suit on....

What's changed?

Some of the best DVR software is gone (SageTV, BeyondTV),
Windows Media Center is all but abandoned
The best movie/disc playing software is gone (TheaterTek)
DRM/licensing has made things that used to be easy (playing movies, recording TV) a lot harder, and it doesn't work as well.
DRM/licensing has made PCs second glass citizens for streaming (Netflix/Vudu/etc's best quality is only available on standalone boxes like the aforementioned Roku)

For my part, I'm still using the same basic setup I had 10 years ago, SageTV is the core of my system still because as far as my needs/concerns go, nothing else has even reached parity with SageTV in the ten years since I bought my first license or the two years since Google ended it's public development. I no longer actually have an HTPC connected to a display* (I have SageTV on my server managing media), I no longer play discs with a PC (Blu-ray killed that, standalones are better and cheaper for that). Yeah HTPCs can do a lot of things, but due to DRM and licensing issues they just can't do them that well (jack of all trades master of none sort of thing), though they're probably "good enough" for most people.

*I do have a box with OpenElec in my HT, and that's probably one of the best things that's happened, XBMC keeps improving and Openelec basically lets you build your own XBMC based streamer. Though that's still basically an experiment since it doesn't support native resolution switching and still isn't quite there.

See what an anamorphoscopic lens can do,
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post #6 of 9 Old 06-27-2013, 03:28 PM
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The basics are. Some front ends are more successful and better supported than others, so some movement has occurred in people's choices. Standard development and improvement cycle for the popular ones.

Hardware wise, the only real move has been to SSD's for OS and app drives to speed the loading process, and faster multicore processors have enabled us to do more with less, so to speak. Investments in powerful 1080p systems are half of what they were 3 years ago, unless you want the best of the best.

HDMI from the GPU for video and sound is the standard. Dual and more tv tuners (which will do HD and SD TV) as well as cablecard tuners are commonplace now and affordable without having to jump through hoops to make them work.

Popular programs (that I use) include:
WMC7
Media Browser
Meta Browser
MPC-HC
madVR
SVP
ReClock
Plex
FlexRAID

makeMKV
Handbrake
dbpoweramp

People also use WHS and WMC8, as well as jriver, xbmc, and some even us WMP and Media Center as rolled out in windows without addons. SAGEtv is dead, as are a few other older apps.

As for it's primary use - my server/HTPC stores all my ripped music and movies and TV series off CD, Bluray and DVD and plays them back as I desire. I control it all via my Logitech Harmony 900, no keyboard, mouse, or other weirdness needed.


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post #7 of 9 Old 06-27-2013, 05:50 PM
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I'll probably get flamed for this but what's changed for me is that stand alone devices are good enough that I don't need an HTPC anymore. I repurposed my HTPC to be a gaming PC for my wife (she loves playing The Sims) not too long ago. I stopped using HTPCs for music long ago since they always sucked for that. I stopped using a DVR a couple of years ago because Netflix/Hulu/etc are good enough for me. Tablets are used for browsing the web from the couch. Streaming devices are used for Netflix/Hulu. Gaming is either done via consoles or a gaming PC. I've always used a stand-alone blu-ray play for playing physical disks. That just leaves playing my ripped movies which I hardly ever do anymore since I've seen the ones I have many times and I don't buy many movies anymore. If I want to watch a movie today, I either hook up my laptop to my projector or just use the physical disk.

The whole "one device to rule the living room" idea just seems kind of silly and old school to me now. I still come here though to see what's going on.
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post #8 of 9 Old 06-27-2013, 06:46 PM
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One really new thing is the Intel NUC ultra compact form factor that is nearly the size of streaming media cubes out there, just as energy efficient, and powers on as quick, but far more powerful with i3/i5 processors.
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post #9 of 9 Old 06-27-2013, 11:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mslide View Post

I'll probably get flamed for this but what's changed for me is that stand alone devices are good enough that I don't need an HTPC anymore. I repurposed my HTPC to be a gaming PC for my wife (she loves playing The Sims) not too long ago. I stopped using HTPCs for music long ago since they always sucked for that. I stopped using a DVR a couple of years ago because Netflix/Hulu/etc are good enough for me. Tablets are used for browsing the web from the couch. Streaming devices are used for Netflix/Hulu. Gaming is either done via consoles or a gaming PC. I've always used a stand-alone blu-ray play for playing physical disks. That just leaves playing my ripped movies which I hardly ever do anymore since I've seen the ones I have many times and I don't buy many movies anymore. If I want to watch a movie today, I either hook up my laptop to my projector or just use the physical disk.

The whole "one device to rule the living room" idea just seems kind of silly and old school to me now. I still come here though to see what's going on.

I think the most under reported thing is JRiver MC at 18.0.205. Just how broad, deep and capable JRiver is becoming and the dirt cheap license kind of resurrects HTPCs of all kinds. For these tiny little Intel boxes it is a nice fit and it is pretty agnostic about win 7 or win 8. Hell if you like, it runs on Macs too I hear. 30 years in the making and tens of thousands of builds later I think it if finally destined for greatness. Yeah you can crash it with ease and you can curse it like the devil but it does everything and if it has a downfall it is it relentless grand ambition and that its uses keep suggesting new features and its crazy developers listen to them to much and don't chase glitches and quirks with the same passion. They fix the bugs but damned they are feature crazy over there and the new features are going to make it a little shaky forever I think. It has finally made production on my main rig. I have been running it on other boxes around the house for a long time, but WMC is now playing backup fiddle to JR MC and while I wanted that to be the case a year ago it really it the real deal.

You will blow it up a half -dozen times the first week and then you will finally begin to get the beast and it will finally start to turn your heart. If you don't need the best video possible on PC then you will find it a charmer now almost from the beginning. I don't if it ever will be an appliance it just has too much customization capability but unless you have to play protected cable it does things WMC will never, ever do.

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