WD HD TV vs. Popcorn Hour vs. PS3? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 66 Old 01-12-2009, 09:13 AM - Thread Starter
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I know these are pretty different products from a price point standpoint.
I'd like to know from a features standpoint what I would be missing out on by not going with one product or the other.

I primarily want an easy to use media server. Wireless would be ideal, but from all I ready may not be ready for prime time.

What are the key differentiators between these products?

I know PS3 can do games and BD. However, it can't stream the new lossless HD audio streams. Also, I've heard of some media format compatibility issues.

Popcorn hour can't do BD or games, but seems to be a good media steamer, and it handles many codecs.

WD MY HD is similar to popcorn hour, but lacks ability to stream HULU and Netflix. Also it's unable to stream 5.1 audio.

I'd really like to know how the interfaces stack up since having lots of content, 1000's of mp3s and 1000's of pictures would be difficult to manage with with a bad interface.

Also level of media compatibility is important to keep from having to reencode
stuff.

Any input would be appreciated.

Mike
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post #2 of 66 Old 01-12-2009, 11:10 AM
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i have the ps3 and the popcorn hour.

i use the ps3 only for bd movies

the popcorn hour for anything off the internet.

i think the popcorn hour is the best product i have bought in a long time. its able to do all the codecs and its near flawless.

i used to use the ps3 for streaming but not anymore(got tired of tversity and lack of mkv support)

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post #3 of 66 Old 01-12-2009, 11:58 AM
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will a ps3 play a dvd shrink, ISO, file? or do you have to have something like the popcorn hour or wdtv thing?

trying to get my DVD collection onto a HD, already have a ps3. Not sure if I should expand its HD to hold these files or just get a bunch of EHD's and one of these Media players?
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post #4 of 66 Old 01-12-2009, 12:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PanamaMike View Post

I know these are pretty different products from a price point standpoint.
I'd like to know from a features standpoint what I would be missing out on by not going with one product or the other.

I primarily want an easy to use media server. Wireless would be ideal, but from all I ready may not be ready for prime time.

What are the key differentiators between these products?

I know PS3 can do games and BD. However, it can't stream the new lossless HD audio streams. Also, I've heard of some media format compatibility issues.

Popcorn hour can't do BD or games, but seems to be a good media steamer, and it handles many codecs.

WD MY HD is similar to popcorn hour, but lacks ability to stream HULU and Netflix. Also it's unable to stream 5.1 audio.

I'd really like to know how the interfaces stack up since having lots of content, 1000's of mp3s and 1000's of pictures would be difficult to manage with with a bad interface.

Also level of media compatibility is important to keep from having to reencode
stuff.

Any input would be appreciated.

Mike

Mike, you've sort of made my case...which is that there is no ONE complete solution yet...by pointing out the pros and cons of each. My opinion and approach is that the PS3 is the best value of these, or any, boxes; CD, SACD (in some cases), DVD, BD...it streams, audio, sd, and hd, although it's not quite where you'd like it to be just yet...it's incredibly upgradeable, so you're hopefully protected as far as future-proofing...and, oh yeah, it plays these game things as well (if that's something you have even a passing interest in at all).

The problem is when you look at the PS3 as only a streamer. Yes, there are better media players out there right now; the question, to me, is are you willing to maybe give a little in the media player department, for right now...with the hope that the PS3 will become what you need it to be in the (hopefully) near future...because of everything else the PS3 brings to the table, or not?

Take my situation: I bought a PS3 solely for BD, at the time when it was hands-down the best BD player on the market (some say, in some ways, it still is, even though I also have a bdp-s550 now in my dedicated HT). And it does a great job with BDs...it does a great job upscaling SD DVDs. I got into a couple of games, which are great fun (though I'm not a hard-core gamer...ok, I can play GH with the best of 'em), and I am now in the process of trying to stream BD to it (I use, and love, XBMC for SD). Now, I've run into some snags, and it's clear that right now PCH would beat the pants off of PS3 for BD streaming; it handles vc-1 encoding, and lossless audio...better GUI, etc. But for me, I don't want to go to 2 boxes, and just getting PCH means giving up everything else the PS3 does. For me, I'd rather live with the PS3s shortcomings, again, for now, and hope that it'll someday be the streaming box that PCH is, if not better.

OTOH, if streaming was 90% of my concern, and I didn't really care about the PS3s ability to play this disc, that disc, games, or the other...then yes, there are better streamers out there for less money.

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post #5 of 66 Old 01-12-2009, 12:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpniner View Post

will a ps3 play a dvd shrink, ISO, file? or do you have to have something like the popcorn hour or wdtv thing?

trying to get my DVD collection onto a HD, already have a ps3. Not sure if I should expand its HD to hold these files or just get a bunch of EHD's and one of these Media players?

No, PS3 will not stream .iso...at least not over a network. I think it will from its own hdd, or an external hdd (I don't use PS3 for SD).

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post #6 of 66 Old 01-12-2009, 12:12 PM
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I'm confused by so many of these Popcorn Hour-type devices. I just want one that can play & stream (over a wireless home network) hi-def files (MPEG2, MPEG4AVC & MKV). Which unit should I get?

I have the PS3 & although it can do some of what these Popcorn Hour-type devices appear to do, it's not as easy.

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post #7 of 66 Old 01-12-2009, 12:40 PM
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so what do we need for the ps3 to become a better streamer? a new firmware update that addresses those issues or a different ps3 altogether?
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post #8 of 66 Old 01-12-2009, 02:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PanamaMike View Post

I know these are pretty different products from a price point standpoint.
I'd like to know from a features standpoint what I would be missing out on by not going with one product or the other.

I primarily want an easy to use media server. Wireless would be ideal, but from all I ready may not be ready for prime time.

What are the key differentiators between these products?

I know PS3 can do games and BD. However, it can't stream the new lossless HD audio streams. Also, I've heard of some media format compatibility issues.

Popcorn hour can't do BD or games, but seems to be a good media steamer, and it handles many codecs.

WD MY HD is similar to popcorn hour, but lacks ability to stream HULU and Netflix. Also it's unable to stream 5.1 audio.

I'd really like to know how the interfaces stack up since having lots of content, 1000's of mp3s and 1000's of pictures would be difficult to manage with with a bad interface.

Also level of media compatibility is important to keep from having to reencode
stuff.

Any input would be appreciated.

Mike

I think it depends on what you plan on using it for.

1. If you want to play games or you need something to play your bluray disc, then obviously PS3 is the only solution. If you don't play games or you don't own any Bluray discs, then PS3 is just going to be an expensive media streamer that does less than the competition.

2. If you have a home server and plan on putting all your data in a central location, then maybe you want to consider PCH. Then you can create a home network and stream all your content to your television. You can also get content from the internet if you have a fast broadband connection. PCH has the most features of all the media streamers, but it may be overkill for some.

3. If you just want to put your content on a drive and watch it on your television, then WDTV is the solution. It's by far the easiest to set up and use. In terms of playing media, it is very similar to PCH minus the DTS downmixing. It will pass the DTS to your surround sound but it doesn't downmix it yet, maybe in a firmware upgrade.

PCH and WDTV have major advantages over the PS3 when it comes to playing media.

-PCH/WDTV both will play ISOs even though WDTV does not officially support ISOs yet. Hopefully they will officially support it in the future and enhance their current feature set and include ISO menus. This is not so a huge advantage because PS3 has an optical drive.
-Probably the biggest advantage is PCH/WDTV can play MKV files. HD content (1080p and 720p) found online is usually in the form of MKV. If you have a PS3 you will not be able to play this content without conversion. If you don't download your videos, then this is not a concern.

In my opinion, if you only need something that can play pictures and mp3s, then go with WDTV. It's the cheapest and easiest to use. You probably aren't adding files everyday so network streaming is not that useful. But it all depends on how you plan on using the device.
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post #9 of 66 Old 01-12-2009, 03:12 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wdmediaplayerfan View Post

I think it depends on what you plan on using it for.

1. If you want to play games or you need something to play your bluray disc, then obviously PS3 is the only solution. If you don't play games or you don't own any Bluray discs, then PS3 is just going to be an expensive media streamer that does less than the competition.

2. If you have a home server and plan on putting all your data in a central location, then maybe you want to consider PCH. Then you can create a home network and stream all your content to your television. You can also get content from the internet if you have a fast broadband connection. PCH has the most features of all the media streamers, but it may be overkill for some.

3. If you just want to put your content on a drive and watch it on your television, then WDTV is the solution. It's by far the easiest to set up and use. In terms of playing media, it is very similar to PCH minus the DTS downmixing. It will pass the DTS to your surround sound but it doesn't downmix it yet, maybe in a firmware upgrade.

PCH and WDTV have major advantages over the PS3 when it comes to playing media.

-PCH/WDTV both will play ISOs even though WDTV does not officially support ISOs yet. Hopefully they will officially support it in the future and enhance their current feature set and include ISO menus. This is not so a huge advantage because PS3 has an optical drive.
-Probably the biggest advantage is PCH/WDTV can play MKV files. HD content (1080p and 720p) found online is usually in the form of MKV. If you have a PS3 you will not be able to play this content without conversion. If you don't download your videos, then this is not a concern.

In my opinion, if you only need something that can play pictures and mp3s, then go with WDTV. It's the cheapest and easiest to use. You probably aren't adding files everyday so network streaming is not that useful. But it all depends on how you plan on using the device.

I think your logic is good. Pretty much what I arrived to.
Thing is, I might go for broke and just build an HTPC, but in the mean time, might just get the WD to start playing with the concept.

Mike
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post #10 of 66 Old 01-12-2009, 03:39 PM
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Mike,

Check out this post: (go to the bottom of the page and see my post)
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1082575

I own multiple devices and the short story is use the PS3 for BD and upscaling SD. Use the Popcorn Hour A-110 for all your streaming!

Mike
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post #11 of 66 Old 01-12-2009, 05:45 PM
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Originally Posted by mstrange View Post

I own multiple devices and the short story is use the PS3 for BD and upscaling SD. Use the Popcorn Hour A-110 for all your streaming!

Mike

Mike, in all due respect, that's a pretty simple answer. Life would be pretty easy if we just through money at the best solution for any job. But I think the OP was trying to find the best solution, or compromise, in one unit. Anything else he should get while he's at it?

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post #12 of 66 Old 01-12-2009, 05:57 PM
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Originally Posted by jpniner View Post

so what do we need for the ps3 to become a better streamer? a new firmware update that addresses those issues or a different ps3 altogether?

That's the magic question. For now, transcoders like TWonky or TVersity seem to help a great deal. I stream from an HP MSS, and I can tell you that when WHS updated its media server from Windows Media Connect to PVConnect (which is an offshoot of TWonky for servers), my PS3 gained a lot of capabilities. That's one of the reasons that I don't think the PS3 is going to stay "stuck" as a streamer for very long.

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post #13 of 66 Old 01-13-2009, 04:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpniner View Post

so what do we need for the ps3 to become a better streamer? a new firmware update that addresses those issues or a different ps3 altogether?

This!

http://code.google.com/p/ps3mediaserver/

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post #14 of 66 Old 01-13-2009, 09:13 PM
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the ps3 has bad scaling on movies. if picture quality matters to you don't use it (won't notice much if you have an SD tv).

if they fixed the scaling it would be decent for divx/avi and some HD rips (using mkv2vob), however it's also missing features like subtitles on vob (only divx cooked into a file with the divx container has subtitles)

HD movies don't look too horrible when they are 1280x720 or 1920x1080 because little or minimal scaling occurs (in the former force 1280x720 before viewing) but the thing will sometimes decide to cut off part of the image to make it fill more of the screen... which leads to some scaling and less image quality

I don't know why they use the same bad scaling that is used on games because there's surely enough CPU to do a bicubic or better scaling
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post #15 of 66 Old 01-14-2009, 12:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wdmediaplayerfan View Post

I think it depends on what you plan on using it for.

1. If you want to play games or you need something to play your bluray disc, then obviously PS3 is the only solution. If you don't play games or you don't own any Bluray discs, then PS3 is just going to be an expensive media streamer that does less than the competition.

2. If you have a home server and plan on putting all your data in a central location, then maybe you want to consider PCH. Then you can create a home network and stream all your content to your television. You can also get content from the internet if you have a fast broadband connection. PCH has the most features of all the media streamers, but it may be overkill for some.

3. If you just want to put your content on a drive and watch it on your television, then WDTV is the solution. It's by far the easiest to set up and use. In terms of playing media, it is very similar to PCH minus the DTS downmixing. It will pass the DTS to your surround sound but it doesn't downmix it yet, maybe in a firmware upgrade.

PCH and WDTV have major advantages over the PS3 when it comes to playing media.

-PCH/WDTV both will play ISOs even though WDTV does not officially support ISOs yet. Hopefully they will officially support it in the future and enhance their current feature set and include ISO menus. This is not so a huge advantage because PS3 has an optical drive.
-Probably the biggest advantage is PCH/WDTV can play MKV files. HD content (1080p and 720p) found online is usually in the form of MKV. If you have a PS3 you will not be able to play this content without conversion. If you don't download your videos, then this is not a concern.

In my opinion, if you only need something that can play pictures and mp3s, then go with WDTV. It's the cheapest and easiest to use. You probably aren't adding files everyday so network streaming is not that useful. But it all depends on how you plan on using the device.

Sorry but a lot of that info simply isn't correct. The PS3 will play ISOs and .mkv files using PS3 media server (linked to just above). It will play most 1080p .mkv files and pretty much all 720p files with no problem (720p can use tsmuxer which doesn't need a very powerful PC). The PS3 as a media player has improved enormously with that PS3 media streamer software and I urge anyone with a PS3 to try it out!
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post #16 of 66 Old 01-14-2009, 01:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zAndy12 View Post

Sorry but a lot of that info simply isn't correct. The PS3 will play ISOs and .mkv files using PS3 media server (linked to just above). It will play most 1080p .mkv files and pretty much all 720p files with no problem (720p can use tsmuxer which doesn't need a very powerful PC). The PS3 as a media player has improved enormously with that PS3 media streamer software and I urge anyone with a PS3 to try it out!

If the new PS3 firmware will play MKV and ISO, then I stand corrected. But it still doesn't change the fact that it's 4 times the price. If you need a bluray player and games, then PS3 is the solution. If you don't need bluray player and games, then there is no reason to pay $399. It's still based on how you plan on using it.

IMHO, not to many people on this board are renting or purchasing Bluray disc. They are getting free content online. Which means really we are only talking about a difference whether you are a gamer or not.
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post #17 of 66 Old 01-14-2009, 06:10 AM
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Originally Posted by wdmediaplayerfan View Post

If the new PS3 firmware will play MKV and ISO, then I stand corrected. But it still doesn't change the fact that it's 4 times the price. If you need a bluray player and games, then PS3 is the solution. If you don't need bluray player and games, then there is no reason to pay $399. It's still based on how you plan on using it.

IMHO, not to many people on this board are renting or purchasing Bluray disc. They are getting free content online. Which means really we are only talking about a difference whether you are a gamer or not.

NO, he's not talking about a firmware update, or PS3 supporting those formats natively; he's talking about a media server that will transcode what PS3 won't handle. Which, while I agree it's worth looking into, isn't the same as saying PS3 alone will do this.

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post #18 of 66 Old 01-14-2009, 08:52 AM
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Originally Posted by CDLehner View Post

Mike, in all due respect, that's a pretty simple answer. Life would be pretty easy if we just through money at the best solution for any job. But I think the OP was trying to find the best solution, or compromise, in one unit. Anything else he should get while he's at it?

CD

CDLehner - I like simple! Don't know why you wouldn't? Anyway, IF you had read my link, I describe multiple options and did not demand that the OP do anything. I recommended what had worked for me. Also in my link there is reference the the Dune BD Prime with is a NWT with a BD built in it.

Actually you can purchase a standalone BD for $150 and the PCH for $225 for a total of $375 and accomplish all you movie needs, just no gaming. Thus the OP can decided what is important.

As far as the transcoding with Tversity, Twonky this takes a LOT of machine to do it and will use the entire machine while doing it. The newer PS3MediaServer looks like it takes a bit less to transcode but still a Core2Duo and it will use all of that machine when transcoding.

I have WHS and do not want it consumed during transcoding, for just streaming it is not a problem for about any machine. So to purchase a quad core machine to make your $400 PS3 handle the streaming seems like a huge waste of money. Use an old machine for file sharing and get a PCH if you need to stream or get a WD HDTV if you just want a local drive connected.

Mike
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post #19 of 66 Old 01-14-2009, 09:21 AM
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CDLehner - I like simple! Don't know why you wouldn't?

Maybe simple was the wrong word; what I meant is simplistic, or maybe assuming is more accurate? In other words, I don't think the OP was really looking for advice like "buy this for this, and that for that" (use the PS3 and PCH).

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I have WHS and do not want it consumed during transcoding, for just streaming it is not a problem for about any machine. So to purchase a quad core machine to make your $400 PS3 handle the streaming seems like a huge waste of money.

Now who's not reading who's post? I never suggested transcoding or another PC, server, etc; I'm with you on that (although I probably will give the PS3 mediaserver a try). What I said was I think the PS3 is the best all-around machine, because of how much it can do (I don't know where that one guy is coming from...it's a fine upscaling SD player, and has been reported, reviewed, and measured to be so), and that I was hopeful its streaming capabilities would be enhanced with time. That if the OP was really looking for an all-in-one-box, PS3 was the way to go, and hopefully the streaming will catch up. If he couldn't care less about SD, BD, CD, or games, and just wants to stream...then a PCH might be the way to go. Of course he could just buy both, but I don't think if that was an option he'd be on the boards asking which is best.

Btw, if you're going to try and slam me with a quote from Stripes, best to use a spell-check; I didn't even get it at first

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post #20 of 66 Old 01-14-2009, 09:30 AM
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CD - OK I can not spell! At least you knew the movie reference (showing my age) I agree with you about the scaling, I believe the PS3 does a great job of this with SD content.

My point is that I have a PS3 and love it. I was transcoding all .MKV content to .mpg for the PS3 to then stream via TVersity. This works great. However, depending on the .MKV file the transcoding can take a long time, which was frustrating. I found the PCH and purchased one and love this little box. It paired with YAMJ is a great interface and can play about anything I throw at it.

So the long winded way to say this is that I do like the PS3 (and I do not use it for any games) as a BD player and a streamer, however with a lot of content in .MKV format the PS3 could not handle it strait up.

Others in this post talked about transcoding on the fly with a media server and in my experience this just consumed the transcoding machine.

Mike
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post #21 of 66 Old 01-14-2009, 12:28 PM
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how about no transcoding and it plays everything... popcorn hour works... listen... get a ps3 for its blu ray capabilities... i have the same setup


as a matter of fact, here's my setup:

Gaming: XBOX 360
Blu Ray: PS3
Fun games: WII
Watching any movies i download: Popcorn hour.

Popcorn hour is great by itself...you dont have to redo formats and transcode this and that. It plays it the way it is

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post #22 of 66 Old 01-14-2009, 12:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RAVEN56706 View Post

how about no transcoding and it plays everything... popcorn hour works... listen... get a ps3 for its blu ray capabilities... i have the same setup


as a matter of fact, here's my setup:

Gaming: XBOX 360
Blu Ray: PS3
Fun games: WII
Watching any movies i download: Popcorn hour.

Popcorn hour is great by itself...you dont have to redo formats and transcode this and that. It plays it the way it is

There ya go OP; you wanted to know which was best between WDTV, PCH, and PS3...Raven suggests you get these four boxes...and a rack for them all. Actually, I would go for five, as a Squeezebox Duet blows all of them away for streaming audio.

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post #23 of 66 Old 01-14-2009, 01:42 PM
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I was on the same dilemma as PanamaMike, but after reading this thread I'm buying a Popcorn Hour. Now I have to explain my wife why do we need an ethernet cable in our room (another cable? she wil say).
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post #24 of 66 Old 01-16-2009, 01:12 PM
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I have a PS3 and iStar HD.


I generally use the iStar for video content (unless it's something I directly d/l to the PS3). Certainly for ISO's, and generally for d/l stuff.

For most music and and photos, I generally prefer the PS3 due to the faster interface (I have TVersity running, pretty much just for music and photos at this point - if PS3mediaServer proves to be comparable in that regard, and also uses less resources, I'll switch to that on my server). Obviously, it's also used for BD.
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post #25 of 66 Old 01-17-2009, 08:53 AM
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I am seeing a lot more posts complaining about hardware failing and other quality issues in PCH-A110. I havent really come across such a case with WDTV. I have a WDTV now but I really want a PCH-A110.

Should I have to be reasonably lucky to get a good PCH hardware or the % of failures are really low to worry about?
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post #26 of 66 Old 01-18-2009, 04:04 AM
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WD TV for me. Very happy with it.
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post #27 of 66 Old 02-14-2009, 07:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zAndy12 View Post

Sorry but a lot of that info simply isn't correct. The PS3 will play ISOs and .mkv files using PS3 media server (linked to just above). It will play most 1080p .mkv files and pretty much all 720p files with no problem (720p can use tsmuxer which doesn't need a very powerful PC). The PS3 as a media player has improved enormously with that PS3 media streamer software and I urge anyone with a PS3 to try it out!

Can the PS3 read NTFS with the PS3mediaserver?
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post #28 of 66 Old 02-14-2009, 08:29 AM
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You can stream off an NTFS formatted HDD yes
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post #29 of 66 Old 02-14-2009, 09:32 AM
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I have a PS3, watching movies on it sucks
You have to burn to a DL DVD(MT2S movies) because it does only tak FAT32 HDD
I never liked streaming so I don't like that either the fact having to leave my computer on is so stupid since then I could connect my computer to my TV just as much hassle
The best solution is WDTV jus because PCH and WDTV are just as good but PCH looks horrible from outside and the menu where WDTV is Small looks good and has a beautiful menu
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post #30 of 66 Old 02-15-2009, 06:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JediSpork View Post

I'm starting to think playing hd from anything other than the original blu ray disc is futile. I'm actually fine with watching sd but when I go hd I want the total experience and not some poopy rip.

Funny; that's exactly what I thought (as a PS3 owner) until I got the PCH. Don't get me wrong, BD rips take a little bit of figuring out; not exactly hard, but you need to know your way around the old PC and be patient until you figure your ****e out. But once you get it dialed-in, the PQ of the PCH is outstanding; and my standards are HIGH! Watched a rip of Wall-E last night; AMAZING!

Now I know everyone has a different approach to streaming, and each of these products has their strengths...so different strokes for different folks. But as far as I'm concerned, PCH beats WDTV because it does so much more, like takes an internal drive and is networkable (that's big!). And I love my PS3, and it does a lot of other things well, but right now it is not ready as a big-time streamer, so the PCH beats that in this regard as well.

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