Looking for a modern XBMC/Kodi hardware box to replace AppleTV2
I currently have a file server with a bunch of hard drives hosting my personal rips of a large number of DVDs and Blu-Rays as well as purchased DRM-free video content. Piracy is not a factor for me. Currently, I stream to my televisions using AppleTV2s modified to run XBMC. I'm currently running XBMC 13 on both. One ATV2 is hooked up over gigabit ethernet, the other is wireless, and I have a very high end router with excellent performance.
Here are my general feelings about my current setup:
+ The hardware is tiny, silent, and has very low power consumption
+ The remotes control are easy to use and very friendly to older relatives and guests that come to our place
+ Playback performance is fairly good for SD content, and hardware decoding for MP4 content is handy.
+ Netflix's interface on the ATV2 is fairly good
+ YouTube's interface on the ATV2 is fairly good
+ My wife and I have iPhones, so AirPlay is a great option
+ I keep my music library in iTunes so the music streaming stuff is pretty good
- I sometimes run into trouble with 720p content, especially relatively high-bitrate stuff. 1:1 Blu-Ray rips are impossible to play
- UI performance is terrible. It's constantly chunky scrolling through our library. Scanning for new content is not nearly as fast as I'd like it to be. Considering a skin other than the default one would be unfathomable, because the default one is fairly lightweight and even it has a lot of UI performance issues.
I am looking for a replacement hardware setup to upgrade to this year or early next year. Price is not something I really care about, but obviously if I can choose between something that's $99 and something that's $199 and they both work equally well, I'm going to pick cheaper. I'm also very skilled technically and have no problem with devices which require modification to run well.
Here's what I'm looking for in a new piece of hardware:
+ Runs XBMC / Kodi (MANDATORY)
+ Supports some sort of simple remote control (AppleTV remote ideal, but I'm willing to switch to something comparable in size); willing to buy an IR dongle or whatever if the hardware does not support it by default.
+ Runs Netflix (Optional but important)
+ Runs YouTube and supports AirPlay beaming (Optional but important)
+ Fairly small (willing to go larger than Apple TV, but not much larger)
+ Silent (MANDATORY)
+ Low power usage (Doesn't need to be as low as Apple TV, but can't be an HTPC)
+ Strong XBMC / Kodi performance including high bitrate 720p. Being able to play a 1:1 Blu-Ray rip would be great. Hardware acceleration for major containers and formats would be great. Future-proofing for H.265 would be great.
+ Good UI performance on Kodi. I want to be able to scroll through a VERY large library (something like 700-800 films and 500-600 or so seasons of television) and scan for new content very quickly. I want smooth like butter.
+ If it doesn't boot to XBMC, that's fine, but the default interface should be clean
+ Is likely to be supported by XBMC/Kodi actively going forward
I've started some preliminary research, and unfortunately I really can't find a clear option. There's the Fire TV, there are a variety of Chromeboxes, there are those Intel NUC devices, there's the Raspberry PI (which seems to be in a comparable performance class to the ATV2 so not really a good upgrade route). There's any number of Linux-running small boxes. There's the Ouya. Then there's a variety of Micro-ATX HTPC options. There's also the increasingly popular HDMI stick format, Intel just announced one. At the high end, there's the Mac Mini. And I can't really get a sense of where to go. When I bought the ATV2s, they were the obvious choice. The price was great, the size was amazing, getting them to run XBMC was easy, performance was great at the time. But there doesn't seem to be an obvious choice today.
I would love to hear some testimonials about various options, especially for anyone who has experience upgrading from ATV2. Thank you very much for your time.
Short version: Have a file server streaming to AppleTV2 XBMC/Kodi. Looking for an upgrade path to get better playback and UI performance. Would love if there was a 2015 ATV that ran XBMC/Kodi, but there isn't. What's my closest replacement option?