Playing local mkv/avi/mp4 files + Netflix streaming: Roku, Boxee, AppleTV, Oppo, LG? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 03-28-2011, 11:43 AM - Thread Starter
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My Oppo DVD player historically has done a great job of playing video files off the net when burned onto a DVD-R, but I'm tired of the hassle of burning, plus lately it often doesn't want to read the discs -- could be a media or transport issue. The 971 doesn't have a USB interface.

So I'm looking for a more convenient way to view such material, plus the occasional Netflix stream, without hassling with disconnecting my laptop and lugging it over to AV land -- that's what I've been doing, but lately I've had some awful sort of ground loop or something that seriously degrades audio so I'm searching for a Better Way.

Candidates seem to be:

Roku box: seems just smurfy, but curiously fails to play back DivX.
Boxee: (stupid name, stupid shape)
Apple TV: the new style, playback is IIRC limited to formats that iTunes will import
Oppo BD-93: If price weren't a factor, this would seem to be the way to go, though I wish they'd support Amazon streaming
LG BD-570: I don't much care about BD playback, but it'd be nice to have
Something else? WD's media player?

Since these devices often seem to have shortcomings when playing files stored over the net via SMB or whatever, I'd envision writing them to a flash key which I'd then plug in. The LG appeals by allowing one to copy to internal storage - great for use as a video jukebox for my son.

Price unfortunately is a big concern. I could probably swing $200, but the $499 price of the Oppp meets stiff resistance.
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post #2 of 9 Old 03-28-2011, 01:21 PM
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First, couple generic notes.
As you start ripping your needs for hard drive space will grow very quickly. So, any solution with embedded hard drive will become very limited very soon.
Next, any streaming capabilities of blu-ray players, at least today, are auxiliary. Blu-ray manufactories are so busy updating firmware to keep up with studios to be able to play new discs that they don’t have enough time to keep up with streaming demands.
Next , the most elegant solution would have been to have a network through your house, and store all your rips in one central place: you don’t need to carry anything anywhere and it’s accessible from a few places at the same time. If you don’t have network now and don’t want to spend time and money building one a nice stopgap solution is a big external hard drive: 2TB is under $100.00 today.

Now, let’s go through your choices:

Roku – nice, but very limited in terms of streaming local material, which is of your first concern now.
Boxee – can’t agree more with your comment about shape – but it’s the most versatile device, excellent interface, plays pretty much any local stuff and provides the most Internet choices.
Apple TV: can’t comment on it as Apple fans are very aggressive and will eat me alive.
Oppo: you said yourself too expensive and see comments above.
LG: regarding internal HD see above, and based on personal experience – the worst support ever, you can consider 570 dead as they already selling 6xx and no version with HD.
WD – nice, but Hub is not worth $100.00 above Live Plus, see above notes.

In term of future into Internet make sure your device has Netflix, Hulu Plus, Vudu, Pandora, Youtube.
If that device is UPnP/DLNA compliant (and most are) you can add a lot of sites with a server like Playon, which already has an access to Amazon.
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post #3 of 9 Old 03-28-2011, 03:36 PM
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IMO, there is one box that is the best of both worlds, local streaming and internet stuff, and that's the Boxee Box. There are boxes with better internet options (the Roku, for instance) and boxes that are better local streamers (the Dune series, PCH boxes), but none can do both quite like the Boxee. The Boxee also has a great UI to boot, and comes in under your $200 price tag.

I know some don't like the aesthetics, but I think it's kinda nifty, it stands out at least.
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post #4 of 9 Old 03-28-2011, 04:16 PM
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I have the LG and a Roku.

I've had zero problems with either. The Roku has a nicer Netflix interface and allows search, the LG's netflix is clean and easy to use but you cannot search.

I've been utterly impressed by how well the LG plays back files over it's built in wireless N. It was easy to setup and I can't remember having a movie stop and buffer mid stream. It has played MP4's and MKV's flawlessly. I have not tried to stream extremely high bitrate files but so far whatever I've tried to play in those 2 formats it has done without error. The "internal storage" on the player is only 1 gig and I cannot comment on it as I've never needed to use it.

I'm using a fairly low end wireless N router (wrt160N) and the files are being pulled off my regular computer so it's not like I have a NAS setup with a nice high end router.
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post #5 of 9 Old 04-01-2011, 04:01 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ptsenter View Post

As you start ripping your needs for hard drive space will grow very quickly. So, any solution with embedded hard drive will become very limited very soon.

Understood. My desire here isn't for a central repository for all my media. Local storage, be it embedded or a USB device, would be for transferring one-off files that would be deleted after viewing, and for storing a couple dozen vids for my toddler -- more convenient and durable than the current stack of data DVD-R's -- so capacity isn't a concern.
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Next, any streaming capabilities of blu-ray players, at least today, are auxiliary. Blu-ray manufactories are so busy updating firmware to keep up with studios to be able to play new discs that they don't have enough time to keep up with streaming demands.

I would think that Oppo would be on top of that, but I probably can't drop the bucks for an Oppo BD player anyway. I'm mostly interested in playing local files, either transferred to embedded storage, off a USB device, or over the net via SMB or DLNA if I can find an appropriate OSX server for the latter. Netflix streaming is mostly my wife's thing, and she's fairly content using her iPad for that. Netflix / Amazon VOD would be a plus, though.
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Next , the most elegant solution would have been to have a network through your house, and store all your rips in one central place: you don't need to carry anything anywhere and it's accessible from a few places at the same time.

Already have the net, both GigE and WiFi. Playback of video files via AFP over the WiFi is surprisingly jerky at times. A media player appliance of whichever flavor would ideally accept a copper connection. Sharing over the net of course requires compatible software on both ends - as I understand it, the new Apple TV is limited to formats that can be imported into iTunes, which is a major drawback. Sure I can feed stuff into HandBrake or Toast or whatever, but the fewer steps / less lead-time it takes to watch a new one-off file, the better.

I guess a structured photo browser wouldn't hurt either.

Quote:


If you don't have network now and don't want to spend time and money building one a nice stopgap solution is a big external hard drive: 2TB is under $100.00 today.

Usually a bit more than $100 for one with FireWire, but yeah I've got plenty of storage already, and am flirting with the idea of getting a 3TB for backups, shifting my 2TB down to replace the 1TB that's rapidly filling with CR2 and AVCHD MTS files. But I digress ...

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Roku - nice, but very limited in terms of streaming local material, which is of your first concern now.

Point taken, but if it plays stuff just fine off a reusable USB flash drive, I can live with that. I just hate burning DVD-R after DVD-R just to toss them after one use, plus the time spent twiddling thumbs while it burns.
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LG: regarding internal HD see above, and based on personal experience - the worst support ever, you can consider 570 dead as they already selling 6xx and no version with HD.

Good to know -- I've no experience with LG hardware other than cell phones. I'm incensed at Samsung for the miserable dearth of input selector codes for remotes, but that's a thread for another day.
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In term of future into Internet make sure your device has Netflix, Hulu Plus, Vudu, Pandora, Youtube.

Probably only the first of that list matters at the moment, but more don't hurt of course, so long as I can keep my wife from $inging up for them.
Quote:


If that device is UPnP/DLNA compliant (and most are) you can add a lot of sites with a server like Playon, which already has an access to Amazon.

Looks like Playon only runs on MS-OS. Maybe XBMC?
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post #6 of 9 Old 04-01-2011, 05:28 AM
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Can you play ANYTHING locally with a Roku?
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post #7 of 9 Old 04-01-2011, 06:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Irishdoom View Post

Can you play ANYTHING locally with a Roku?

Yes, there are ways, with 3rd party channels(also the XDS has a usb port which was recently and finally activated), but you have to have the file in a specific format(I forget what it is) otherwise it just won't play.

As for the choices for the OP, if you have to have Netflix then that will limit them a bit. Beyond what has been mentioned already(to preface, I have a Boxee Box), another choice is the Popcorn Hour A-210, which is probably one of the best streamers for that price, but it doesn't have Netflix.
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post #8 of 9 Old 04-02-2011, 02:31 AM
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From what you are asking... in this scenario Boxee Box is the best option...

Currently the D-Link Boxee Box is the only one available... but I believe Iomega is releasing a Boxee Box media player very soon that also supports an internal HDD... so if you don't like how D-Link's look you can go with IOMEGA's BOXEE BOX (if you are in no rush)... operations and GUI should not be any different since Boxee develops the middleware for both... I saw it at CES - looks cool enough...

Cheers!

Cameron
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post #9 of 9 Old 04-02-2011, 05:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anthony11 View Post

So I'm looking for a more convenient way to view such material, plus the occasional Netflix stream, without hassling with disconnecting my laptop and lugging it over to AV land -- that's what I've been doing, but lately I've had some awful sort of ground loop or something that seriously degrades audio so I'm searching for a Better Way.

Candidates seem to be:

Boxee: (stupid name, stupid shape)
Apple TV: the new style, playback is IIRC limited to formats that iTunes will import

Price unfortunately is a big concern. I could probably swing $200, but the $499 price of the Oppp meets stiff resistance.

I am assuming from your other reply that you have an iPad or iPod Touch etc... If that is the case then the Apple TV will do exactly what you want. It becomes an accessory to the iDevice. Use Airplay and you can play almost anything on it. You do not have to feed stuff into Handbrake. You have many choices. The two I use are Air Video and Plex. With Air Video you run a service on a Mac or a PC which gathers all the info related to where your files are living. You can then play those on the iPad or a TV with an AppleTV attached. Plex is far nicer in that you have all the metadata you want at hand. It's very XBMC, Boxee, etc... like in the way it gathers info about the files. Plex, Boxee, etc... grew out of XBMC. The Plex client lives on the i() and using AirPlay you can then view whatever you want on your TV. If what you want is better quality than 720p then that's not the way to go. Th ePlex client which supports the latest iOS (4.3) will be available any day now from iTunes. Between Airplay, Plex and/orAir Video and iTunes you really do cover a lot. What you don't get is 1080p streaming. The AppleTV is pretty inexpensive and the Plex and Air Video clients are $4 or $5 or less.

If you are not looking for an accessary to a laptop or iPad then the Boxee Box would be a pretty interesting choice. It has a fan unfortunately, but apart from that it is probably the best net and local player at this time which provides you with Netflix. It also falls into your price range.

For what it's worth AirPlay on my iPod Touch 4 uses virtually no battery life. In fact nothing is really happening on it while things are playing on the TV. I use my normal remote to control things.

It really comes down to whether or not you want/need a general media player which the Apple TV is not, but the Boxee Box is.


philip
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