Help! Which Media Player / HTPC to Buy / Build? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 04-23-2013, 10:19 AM - Thread Starter
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I've searched around, read about most of the newest Dune/PCH/Mede8er/Pivos/RaspberryPi stuff, and haven't found a solution that works for me.

I currently have a couple of WDTV Lives. One is a Plus, one is the regular Live. Both use WDLXTV firmware. I've been slightly displeased with both because 1) they don't do DTS-MA HD, and 2) the WDLXTV firmware is no longer really being actively developed. Plus, they tend to overheat and lock up when torrenting, lose USB-connected drives when the WDTV locks up, and NZB support has been terribly spotty, at best.

So, my question is, should I go with a HTPC or a different network media player? My considerations, in order of importance, are:

  1. Ability to pass all the HD codecs to my receiver via HDMI.
  2. Price. The lower the better. I spent $50 on each of these WDTVs, + $10 for USB wifi dongles.
  3. Power consumption. As an always-on device, I want low, Low, LOW power consumption.
  4. Must handle Blu-Ray & DVD menus from ISO files. This also implies the ability to do high bitrate, but primarily from USB-connected storage. MKV chapter support would also be in here, I think.
  5. Torrent & newsgroup apps support.
  6. Fanless. I don't want to hear it.
  7. Netflix HD + 5.1 surround. Amazon VOD streaming!
  8. Delicious Jukebox UI with movie sheets, and/or the ability to modify the UI to suit my tastes and display preferences.
  9. Built-in wifi and USB Hub support. Everything I have is either on an external drive or NAS.
  10. Ability to handle most lossless music codecs, setup playlists on the fly, etc.

I'd be OK with a WDTV if it could do all of these things with WDLXTV, but there is no such option currently available.

Given these requirements, what are some good options? Is there something right around the corner that should address all of these needs and be relatively inexpensive?
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post #2 of 5 Old 04-24-2013, 05:12 AM
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As a product such a thing does not exist. You might be able to cobble together something with a PC that meets most of those goals.
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post #3 of 5 Old 04-24-2013, 05:35 AM
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Wow, you're asking for alot! Let me know when those "wish-list" items make it into a single device. With that being said, you state that your content is stored on either an "external drive or a NAS".....well, what kind of NAS do you currently have? Personally, from the client side I use a combination of Rokus, Samsung Smart Hub devices and Vizio Co-Stars that all stream content from my NAS. I haven't seen a WDTV Live in action, but many on these forums use them; I prefer the Roku over WDTV, and have even been really impressed with the Vizio Co-Star (it's still missing Hulu though). Like the previous poster stated, most of what you're trying/looking to do can be accomplished, but it'll be a DIY solution.
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post #4 of 5 Old 04-24-2013, 06:33 AM - Thread Starter
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I feel like this really shouldn't be too much to ask of a device. The $50 WDTV Live series already does all of this with the WDLXTV firmware except:

  • It passes TrueHD just fine, but can't do PCM and reduces DTS-MA HD to its DTS core.
  • Handles BR & DVD menus, but can't do high bitrate (above 30,000) without chop/stutter.
  • While they can handle both download formats, they overheat and/or lock up alot when doing torrents, and their drivers limit the speed of NNTP.
  • Can't setup playlists on the fly.
  • No Amazon VOD, but does Netflix HD w/ 5.1 just fine.

Why can't a newer device, say PCH or something cobbled together from Android, do that stuff too?
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post #5 of 5 Old 04-26-2013, 03:21 AM
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Why can't a newer device, say PCH or something cobbled together from Android, do that stuff too?

* Because the price would increase for licensing HD audio pass-through.
* BD menus cant be done because of Cinavia DRM which is now a requirement for any BD capable player (WDTV does not support BD menus so not sure why you think it does, you may be confusing with BD Light menus).
* The UI of old school media players based off stuff like the WDTV and Popcornhour never handled music well to begin with.
* There are a ton of politics surround Amazon VOD and Netflix, in particular those companies want a locked down box as much as possible assuming they even consider the device as a client. They would take a dim view on such things like torrent/newsgroup support.

You can break it up between two devices like a Synology NAS to handle torrent and storage, that leaves you with more flexibility towards devices that have Amazon VOD/Netflix but streaming media players with those are rare as it is, Roku/GoogleTV are not particulary suitable clients for what you want, either they dont support the codecs, menus or HD audio.

You could look at a Samsung or LG Blu-ray disc player which have Plex clients, Synology NAS could run Plex media server and give you a jukebox UI on the BD player which might have HD audio pass-through too, however any recent BD player has Cinavia DRM on it were it kills the audio track on any movie with it's watermark embedded.
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