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Honest Reliability Assessment

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
As I dig further into the idea of replacing my cable boxes with an HTPC and a media center extender, it seems that reliability may be a big concern. I'm very technically inclined, but I'm pretty busy between work and other activities, so when I want to watch TV/Movies, etc. I just want it to work. That is the reason I've avoided HTPCs to date. I was hoping the tech had finally evolved to where things work as they are supposed to on a consistent basis. However, after reading part of the Ceton Echo thread, I'm no longer convinved that is the case.

My impression is that the Echo is basically the only worthwhile extender on the market, and it's buggy. I need something my wife can easily use (she won't tolerate **** not working right) and something that I'm not going to have to constantly tinker with to get right. I don't mind a bit of a "hazing" period to get it all setup, but after that I just want it to work consistently and reliably.

So, what I'm looking for is an honest assessment of your setups. Do they really consistently work properly, or do you find yourself constantly tinkering with it to work out bugs, with new bugs popping up every time you get one fixed? My biggest fear is ditching my boxes, spending a bunch of money on an HTPC and extender setup, and having it piss me off because it never works like it should. I'm open to any and all thoughts, comments, insults, etc.

Edit: I'll add that I do want to be able to play BluRay movies and file-based movies (MKV/h.264) over the same system.
Edited by bradg33 - 1/30/13 at 11:34am
post #2 of 11
If you set up an HTPC to replace your DVR and do nothing else, its going to be rock solid. You likely will never have an issue with it. You start having issues when you start pushing it to do other things. The more things you want it to do (Play other codecs, upscale, use external players, etc.), the more complex it becomes and the more likely something will stop functioning at some point.

As for extenders, I use an XBox 360. It boots directly into Media Center. We only use it for LiveTV and Recordings and its flawless. I had been under the impression that in that kind of use, the Echo is fine as well, but reading some recent comments that may be incorrect.

So for WAF, plain DVR HTPC plus XBox 360 is going to be fine.

I'm very seriously considering moving my InfiniTV into my server and running a virtual HTPC there for nothing more than DVR and live TV, just putting extenders in all the rooms, and adding a seperate boxes for all my other media playback (two locations that I might actually be able to use the same box since I wouldn't have to worry about MSFT's insanse 1 TV policy). I'd never really have to worry about losing my recordings when doing a rebuild that way.
post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
See my edit. Does that change your opinion?
post #4 of 11
Not really. I didn't say you WOULD have problems, just that the liklihood increases. I had no problems with my setup for a good 9 months or so last year. Then I finally ended up with a disc with Cinavia on it and TMT5 popped up an error and nerfed TrueHD playback on my system.
post #5 of 11
My HTPC never has problems - just get it set up the way you'd like and never tinker with codecs, drivers, windows updates, etc.

Extenders don't make good media players - its as simple as that. The Echo might be promising, but as it stands you won't be able to play your remuxed blurays.

If you are willing to play within the confines of WMC - convert your files to 1080p MPEG2 based WTV files with AC3 audio, you will have no problems. H264, DTS, mkv, basically anything that became mainstream after 2007 is out of the question in terms of simplicity with extenders..
post #6 of 11
How do you convert files to the WTV container?
post #7 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by pittsoccer33 View Post

My HTPC never has problems - just get it set up the way you'd like and never tinker with codecs, drivers, windows updates, etc.

Extenders don't make good media players - its as simple as that. The Echo might be promising, but as it stands you won't be able to play your remuxed blurays.

If you are willing to play within the confines of WMC - convert your files to 1080p MPEG2 based WTV files with AC3 audio, you will have no problems. H264, DTS, mkv, basically anything that became mainstream after 2007 is out of the question in terms of simplicity with extenders..

Actually remuxing them to a lower and constant bit rate mkv just might make them play. If you have them ripped in all their glory with HD Audio they won't play. They won't play on the Xbox either. Although I think that ceton may pull it off with an android solution I do have a $60 Patriot Box Office running Medebo f/w that plays them right now but the Simba shares are a pain to set up. My echo plays mkv but not of the flavor that most of my library is.
post #8 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by ncarty97 View Post

How do you convert files to the WTV container?

videoredo
post #9 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by bradg33 View Post

As I dig further into the idea of replacing my cable boxes with an HTPC and a media center extender, it seems that reliability may be a big concern. I'm very technically inclined, but I'm pretty busy between work and other activities, so when I want to watch TV/Movies, etc. I just want it to work. That is the reason I've avoided HTPCs to date. I was hoping the tech had finally evolved to where things work as they are supposed to on a consistent basis. However, after reading part of the Ceton Echo thread, I'm no longer convinved that is the case.

My impression is that the Echo is basically the only worthwhile extender on the market, and it's buggy. I need something my wife can easily use (she won't tolerate **** not working right) and something that I'm not going to have to constantly tinker with to get right. I don't mind a bit of a "hazing" period to get it all setup, but after that I just want it to work consistently and reliably.

So, what I'm looking for is an honest assessment of your setups. Do they really consistently work properly, or do you find yourself constantly tinkering with it to work out bugs, with new bugs popping up every time you get one fixed? My biggest fear is ditching my boxes, spending a bunch of money on an HTPC and extender setup, and having it piss me off because it never works like it should. I'm open to any and all thoughts, comments, insults, etc.

Edit: I'll add that I do want to be able to play BluRay movies and file-based movies (MKV/h.264) over the same system.

My HTPC does all this very reliably. I don't have any STB's in my house and that saves me $30/mo in CableTV costs. My echo is working pretty well right now, finally.
post #10 of 11
It sounds like OpenELEC ( http://openelec.tv ) may be what you are chasing after.
post #11 of 11
Openelec doesn't handle copy protected TV.
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