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Have you noticed something on this forum lately?

post #1 of 134
Thread Starter 
I don't know about y'all but I have been noticing something for the last ~ 2 years or so. I have been on AVS for over 10 years and some patterns show themselves rather easily.

The activity on this forum has slowed down considerably.

Not just a little, but a lot. I don't think this has anything to do with AVS, I think this is more of a paradigm shift in the perception of "HTPCs" in general, and I'm trying to wrap my head around it. Obviously I don't have web stats from AVS to support this, but it "seems" that way to me.

  • Is it because streaming services have taken off in the last few years and most of that streaming is consumed on tablets and/or dedicated media players?
  • Is it because the content is just not that exciting anymore?
  • The technology certainly hasn't become more difficult over the years, in fact it has become easier.
  • Is DRM/Cinavia/you name what playing a factor here?
  • Is this more of a psychological issue with big government/RIAA etc and the mental block this may be causing?
  • Is the industry just not innovating more? Nothing to excite the typical HTPC user?
  • Netflix a major driver for this, with them excluding PCs from the best streaming experience?
  • Are more people just reading, and not actually posting?


Any collective thoughts? smile.gif
post #2 of 134
I think it is the reading part, so many configurations have been tried and tested that i don't think a question is rare anymore. I know when i am building my setups, the stickys have most all of the info i need.

I do also think netlfix abadoning PC's has played a large part as well, if it worked better, i know i would quit using cable instantly.

DRM and Cinavia doesn't affect my setup at all (MKV's) so i am not too sure how that would affect others.
post #3 of 134
The largest drop in posts seemed to coincide with the recession. I assumed people were cutting their budgets. Clearly PC sales have fallen. Windows 8 strength is not as a desktop program. People are working long hours to make ends meet. My primary benefit for the HTPC is better video and audio quality, sofa access to media with a remote and reduced need for drawers or racks for movie storage. There is a hurdle in complexity; so, this needs to be a hobby. Additionally, quality is only a driver for a few and many are watching video on a seven inch screen while commuting or standing in line. I would imagine that were there a survey diverse reasons for reduced posts would surface.
post #4 of 134
I think the info about HTPC is common these days or available on less advanced websites.

AVS has always been about jig performance and high tech - I think cheap HTPC builders don't even bother with AVS these days because there is plenty of noob info other places.

It seems like the vast amount of action in this forum is generated around things like servers, SVP, MADVR, advanced GPU set ups etc....

Everyone already has an HTPC.
post #5 of 134
Quote:
Originally Posted by kapone View Post

  • Netflix a major driver for this, with them excluding PCs from the best streaming experience?

Netflix's Windows 8 App offers 1080p/5.1 (as well as Super HD I believe). Regarding HTPCs the hardware cost performance (of what's required) is so low nowadays there isn't really any reason for research per se. And at the same time software has matured to the point of selecting it off a shelf.

A year ago I wanted to give WMC a try. A $300 Best Buy close-out got me an i3, more memory and storage than I needed along with HD audio. WMC takes a whopping 10 minutes to configure as does XBMC. A year later the same machine (since upgraded to 8 and 8.1) is running like a champ.

Recently, I wanted to replace my Mac Mini and decided to build a Shuttle. There wasn't any real decisions on what to buy performance wise rather it was completely price related... what was the best bang for the buck. HTPCs haven't been reduced to the appliance level quite yet but it's at the point it's more your hobby than anything else if you want to mess around posting endlessly. smile.gif
Edited by Charles R - 7/13/13 at 1:31pm
post #6 of 134
I think the number of posts over the last 10+ years has always fluctuated with the "challenge" that was trying to be solved. First it was DVD playback, then perfecting DVD playback picture quality. Then NTSC TV tuner cards became ubiquitous and building your own DVR became feasible. WMC XP edition rode in a new wave of HTPC excitement, and then ATSC tuner cards exploded thead counts here. With Vista and Win7 there was a huge leap forward in ability, but no shortage of codec-problems and everyone trying to tweak their experience. When cable-card came out, we saw a renaissance in HTPC usage as DVR rather than just video playback devices. Streaming video has always had a huge demand, but the tools were either kludgy, stopped working, or abandoned. Blu-Ray (and subsequently 3D) created a lasting but minor stir here, and it seems the population has always been gravitating towards using servers, NAS, or advanced setups.

With WMC stagnant, and the alternatives are just ok, depending on your level of tradeoffs or what you are willing to put up with. I think the community has settled into a calm, enjoying over a decade's-worth of "crowdsourced" community intelligence. Microsoft has effectively abandoned the home market... both media and server. Minor players seem to pop up and make a bit of noise every now and then... streamer-boxes (Boxee, Popcorn, Patriot, Roku, etc.), alternative interfaces (Sage, Media Portal, XBMC, etc.)... but it all seems to come back to WMC. It was always the 900 lb. gorilla in the space, and I think they won a lot of "Microsoft-fans" at a critical point in time when they were seeing their most intense competition from FOSS (Linux) and Apple.

I don't know if there are any new hardware challenges in the HTPC space to be overcome. I don't think 4K video will be that much of an improvement that it will need anything more than slightly beefier hardware. Now, in the software space, there is a lot of opportunity, but no one seems to get it. Boxee had the most potential marrying the physical (locally stored video, TV watching) and the virtual (streaming services)... but really lost their way with the whole boxee-box thing. The attraction was always about their software, the strategy of making your own hardware was just silly in my opinion. Google made a little noise with their search services on top of existing services, but they were a little short-sighted in my opinion... once again... it's the software that makes Google great, not another box. Apple? Who knows... the whole "cracked the code of TV" comment by Steve Jobs has yet to be revealed. So TV for Apple is still a "hobby".

And here we are... still a "hobby" for most of us.
post #7 of 134
for me, the wealth of information already here greatly curbs any post I might make. Additionally, these days, there is a dedicated forum for either the hardware or software I might choose to use (and I don't post at those forums either for the same reasoning). (AVS is an amazing resource, made by individuals who actually roll up sleeves and use the stuff)
post #8 of 134
i think puwaha is right - a $350 off the shelf computer can be plugged into your tv or receiver and play hd video and hd audio now. theres still things that need to be set up - bitstreaming, mkv - but a google search turns that up pretty easily. it isnt a guessing game as to which video cards accelerate mpeg2 and h264 or bitstream dts-ma.
post #9 of 134
The forum has definitely slowed. I think it has to do with:

1) Nothing has really changed in this area in years. Sure, hardware components get faster, HDs get bigger but it's all basically the same. UIs look pretty much look and feel like the first HTPC UIs and do pretty much the same things.

2) It's trivial to build an HTPC today. You don't need special components or anything. Just buy the cheapest off the shelf computer or build something out of the cheapest components you can find and it will play a Blu-Ray fine.

3) HTPCs are being replaced by stand alone devices. iPhones/tablets/etc have taken over music and provide a much better interface. Streaming devices are eliminating the need for a DVR, a ripped movie collection, etc. Consider how my wife watches TV these days. Often times, she watches netflix on her iPad while she's getting ready. A few years ago, I would have put an HTPC in the bedroom allowing her to watch it on the TV while getting ready.

My HTPCs have been replaced with our smartphones, tablets, streaming devices and one standalone blu-ray player for the rare times I play something from a physical disk. Netflix and Hulu Plus, and how we changed our TV viewing habits, have eliminated the need for a DVR. These days, I equate this hobby to the people who used to put PCs in their cars so they could play their MP3 collections.
post #10 of 134
Two things which have changed recently:
1. Significantly better DVD video quality using MPC-HC with LAV filters and MadVR (with Jinc3+AR and other scalers)
2. Support for video on monitors capable of going beyond 1080 resolution.

I am sure there are other improvements. It just depends on what matters to you.
post #11 of 134
I feel like I'm always pushing their product on here, but the thing that has made the biggest difference for me is JRiver Media Center.
It handles everything I throw at it, greatly simplifies audio output configuration, and is automatically configured to use MadVR and LAV Filters when you use Red October HQ for playback.

From a fresh install of Windows, it really only takes a couple of minutes to get everything set up now, instead of installing MPC-HC, downloading and installing MadVR, LAV filters, ffdshow, Reclock etc. and manually configuring each one.
Nevcariel getting DVD playback to work with LAV filters also significantly simplified setup.

I think something else that makes setup easier now is that fewer people are watching TV any more, or care about passing it through their HTPC.
post #12 of 134
Quote:
Originally Posted by Postmoderndesign View Post

Two things which have changed recently:
1. Significantly better DVD video quality using MPC-HC with LAV filters and MadVR (with Jinc3+AR and other scalers)
2. Support for video on monitors capable of going beyond 1080 resolution.

I am sure there are other improvements. It just depends on what matters to you.

Yes. And this is of interest to the core AVS enthusiast much more than most normal people.
post #13 of 134
I thought the drop in posts coincided with the new look forums, here. I know for a while Tapatalk stopped working with AVS, and that slowed me down somewhat. I don't think the HTPC forum recovered after this. Plus we now have a couple of "Look at Me, I'm Awesome, Brah!" type posters that put me off from visiting/posting too much. That and JRiver MC has solved almost everything that I wanted out of my HTPC experience, so I just don't have that many questions to ask or setup headaches any more. I'm sure people feel the same way about XBMC etc too.
Edited by fitbrit - 7/17/13 at 9:38am
post #14 of 134
Quote:
Originally Posted by mslide View Post

The forum has definitely slowed. I think it has to do with:

1) Nothing has really changed in this area in years. Sure, hardware components get faster, HDs get bigger but it's all basically the same. UIs look pretty much look and feel like the first HTPC UIs and do pretty much the same things.
I beg to differ. Blu-Ray playback with HD audio is a huge advance as is the ability to play mkv's. 3D is also releatively new to HTPCs, although I expect it will fade fairly quick. Integrated HD audio and video in CPUs is another major change. A lot has happened over the past few years.
Quote:
2) It's trivial to build an HTPC today. You don't need special components or anything. Just buy the cheapest off the shelf computer or build something out of the cheapest components you can find and it will play a Blu-Ray fine.
Definitely. With guides like Assassin's Blog it's easy even for the complete beginner to put together a functioning HTPC. I see this as a major reason why traffic may have decreased, assuming it actually has. I really haven't seen that much of a drop in activity, but then I don't monitor it all that closely. I'd like to see some actual data before I validate the accuracy of the thread topic.
Quote:
3) HTPCs are being replaced by stand alone devices. iPhones/tablets/etc have taken over music and provide a much better interface. Streaming devices are eliminating the need for a DVR, a ripped movie collection, etc. Consider how my wife watches TV these days. Often times, she watches netflix on her iPad while she's getting ready. A few years ago, I would have put an HTPC in the bedroom allowing her to watch it on the TV while getting ready.

My HTPCs have been replaced with our smartphones, tablets, streaming devices and one standalone blu-ray player for the rare times I play something from a physical disk. Netflix and Hulu Plus, and how we changed our TV viewing habits, have eliminated the need for a DVR. These days, I equate this hobby to the people who used to put PCs in their cars so they could play their MP3 collections.
I'd say they are being supplemented rather than being replaced. Many people like the portability of tablets and smart phones, but home theater enthusiasts aren't as likely to give up HTPCs altogether.

Netflix and Hulu may have changed your viewing habits, but that doesn't mean the rest of us use them. Lots of people like the convenience of streaming services but others, like myself, still prefer the best source material available, which is currently on Blu-Ray. Streaming services have improved considerably but they've still got a long way to go, IMHO. If everyone starts streaming movies then you've still got to deal with the bottleneck and limitations of your ISP. I expect they'll see this as an opportunity to stick it to the consumer and start charging for the amount of data you stream over and above a set minimum.
post #15 of 134
Quote:
Originally Posted by captain_video View Post

Netflix and Hulu may have changed your viewing habits, but that doesn't mean the rest of us use them. Lots of people like the convenience of streaming services but others, like myself, still prefer the best source material available, which is currently on Blu-Ray. Streaming services have improved considerably but they've still got a long way to go.
While I agree with you in my preference for blu-ray over streaming services, I'd have to argue that the availability of Roku, Samsung Smart TVs, X360, PS3, etc playing back Netflix and Hulu reasonably well in addition to every major tablet OS is cannibalizing the newbie sales of HTPCs. Of course we both know it's not really about the sales but the community, and I'd say the community is shrinking since more newcomers look to find the easiest way to play Netflix, Hulu, and Youtube rather than backing up CDs, DVDs, and Blu-Rays to a NAS/Server and playing them back. This is just the way I see it, because I can count on one hand the number of people I know outside of forums that use HTPCs (I set them up for all of them) yet nearly everyone else that *would* be a good candidate for an HTPC is more interested in Netflix

Quote:
Originally Posted by captain_video View Post

If everyone starts streaming movies then you've still got to deal with the bottleneck and limitations of your ISP. I expect they'll see this as an opportunity to stick it to the consumer and start charging for the amount of data you stream over and above a set minimum.

Ding, ding, ding tongue.gif Corporate USA was built on sticking it to the consumer
post #16 of 134
I think it really has to do with the availability of set-top boxes that will do much of what an HTPC will do. And with MS virtually ending support for Media Center, it is even scarier to think of a new build with a cable card setup that might not have a guide at any time. That would render it non-functional for most users, except for a few local channels, and those luck FIOS users who can use an alternative player.
You can get an X1 DVR from Comcast, with 4 tuners, add a Roku box for $100 to stream Netflix and Amazon in HD, and none of the hassles. That means that the HTPC is no pretty much solely a player for movies streamed from a local server, which appeals to a pretty small niche, overall.
Edit: And Cinavia puts a pretty large crimp on THAT.
post #17 of 134
Case study of a friend of mine. While I still love and regularly use my HTPC, his has sat unloved and powered off since he got an AppleTV. The AppleTV has not only killed off his HTPC but he dumped his cable box/subscription too.

Because he wanted all his media portable and has 2 iPhones and 2 iPads in his household, he converted everything to .m4v and loaded it into iTunes. He's got a Netflix subscription, Hulu+ subscription, and HBOGo authorized on his AppleTV. Everything he owns is in iTunes, DRM free ripped from disc. Add to that the occasional iTunes rental, and airplay for any number of apps from iOS and there's just no reason to turn on anything but the AppleTV.

Plus, It's only going to get better.

Yes, there's a PQ compromise but not as much as you might think and he seems willing to live with that for simplicity's sake.
post #18 of 134
When the appleTV saves me $28/month on my CableTV bill and will handle HD Audio (IIR it doesn't but I haven't looked in a while) I'll take a look but in the mean time I'm using my HTPC every single day and have for two straight years.
post #19 of 134
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdcrox View Post

That means that the HTPC is no pretty much solely a player for movies streamed from a local server, which appeals to a pretty small niche, overall.
Edit: And Cinavia puts a pretty large crimp on THAT.

For the majority, I'd agree except for the Cinavia part. I'd guess that in the past 2 years judging from this forums recommendations alone there are far more MKV to MPC, XBMC, WMC users than there are AnyDVD to TMT/PDVD users. Full menu support in blu rays has become the niche of the niche smile.gif Most (especially in the majority of the XBMC forums) just want the main title anyway
Quote:
Originally Posted by JMGNYC View Post

Everything he owns is in iTunes, DRM free ripped from disc. Add to that the occasional iTunes rental, and airplay for any number of apps from iOS and there's just no reason to turn on anything but the AppleTV.

Plus, It's only going to get better

There's not just the PQ compromise of the ATV, but the inferiority compromise of all the other iOS devices. If they made a phone with a larger screen and let all of the different devices be jailbroken much easier then I could get on board. I can't say for sure that it's going to get *better* since they are taking so long to copy the useful features of android. They are following so far behind in usability now that it's not clear they'll be catching up. It took forever for them to rid the push notifications for the pull down menu and just as long to allow OTA updating rather than iTunes tethering. I think they finally added quick toggles to the pulldown menu in the latest release, but waiting for the customizable keyboard and home screen is probably going to be like waiting for the grass to grow in a drought.
post #20 of 134
Cord cutters can certainly get by pretty well these days without an HTPC. I just can't bring myself to cut the cord just yet. The lousy PQ and commercials on Hulu are still intolerable to me.
post #21 of 134
Ya I'd agree with a lot of people going to other forums where someone will blog about XBMC and how to install it...then call it a day. And if that doesn't work out well for them then oh well, back to netflix!
post #22 of 134
It was so much the loss of traffic I noticed over the last six months it was the lack of much new. The SNR had gone down. But it is not jut the HTPC forums, it is all the forums I frequent. Even something like display calibration. The solutions keep getting better and better and they are friendly and more accessible to the average enthusiast.

I think one of the issues is that HTPC has grabbed all the low hanging fruit already and except for a few thousand of us who are still hanging around there is little understanding of just how easy it is to pick stuff off the higher branches.

When we got to the point where someone with zero knowledge could install JRiver and get support for the cablecard tuners and madVR without much trouble, there is not much left to talk about here.

JRiver takes audio far beyond the level all but the most focused audio people could care about. Yeah, it still has a less than first class PVR/Program Guide interface but most likely they will get there during the MC19 cycle.

We use to beat the video card subject and hd audio to death as it was difficult to get high quality in those areas... between LAV, madVR and the very high quality, very low cost gpu solutions... HTPC via a JRiver is not a challenge. For the most part it is turnkey and if something is not working right the answer is likely to elsewhere not here.
post #23 of 134
I just think it's gotten to easy I haven't posted in months, and I just barely glance at the main page now a days. When I moved from a streamer to a HTPC back in the XP days it was a challenge. You had to play with filter preferences and you almost always ended up in some sort of codec hell. Once you got every thing working you didn't want to touch it because all you would do is screw something up. As things progressed and the hardware got better it was no longer a challenge. I still use my HTPC's every day I just don't tinker any more. The build and setup are trivial. Now I just use them and leave them be.

The one interesting thing is actually watching the progression of the posters here. You have the rise and fall of the super posters. With the exception of ReneTHX new people come on the scene and make a big splash. They rack up a ton of posts about everything. Then eventually they tire and fade away. This is what I find entertaining about this forum.
post #24 of 134
Thread Starter 
You know what's funny? smile.gif With all this talk of "stability" and things working just right (which for the most part is true) in the HTPC space, there is still this one thing that has never been addressed, except with Jriver probably.

Controlling your Media Center using an iPad or another tablet. I don't mean all these run of the mill, crappy remote control apps out there, I mean, a solid UI experience of actually being able to browse/select/play/control your media experience ON a media center FROM a tablet.

Remote controls are so 2011....tongue.gif
post #25 of 134
Every major change in TV delivery technology, I suspect, brings about some spike in the traffic here. For example, I joined AVS about the time that cable companies started going digital. This affected our TV viewing as (for example) the old VCR became much less useful than it had historically been.

IIRC (it's been a few years now), the sequence of events was that then we got a Toshiba VCR with a clear QAM tuner, and that made it possible to go on pretty much as before, but subsequently the (non-broadcast) QAM channels got encrypted and we had to start renting the cableco DVR for recording the channels that we were subscribed to.

Then, as we slowly came to realize that the DVR was (1) cr*ppy and glitchy, and (2) offered very limited storage for (3) a perpetual monthly rental fee, we started exploring PC-based solutions for time-shifting and long-term storage of shows/movies. That led me to research (here and on other forums) what people were doing in this regard, and I discovered Windows Media Center. Learning to use that and the HTPC around it led to a new wave of visits and posts for me here.

We are just one example, but I imagine an illustrative one. Wouldn't be surprised to learn that AVS traffic benefited from these changes prompting people to search for new solutions to their needs, and then winding down as they solved their issues and learned how to use the new technology.
post #26 of 134
Quote:
Originally Posted by kapone View Post

Controlling your Media Center using an iPad or another tablet. I don't mean all these run of the mill, crappy remote control apps out there, I mean, a solid UI experience of actually being able to browse/select/play/control your media experience ON a media center FROM a tablet

XBMC -> iOS/Android -> Commander/Yatse. Nothing run-of-the-mill or crappy about the experience. Web control is icing on the cake

Still prefer remote. I like to control things while looking at the big screen rather than the small one tongue.gif
post #27 of 134
I think the locking of the Ceton Echo thread caused the drop in traffic eek.gif.

But seriously, the combination of the economy, proven approaches already documented, and better tools making the whole thing easier are the primary reasons. Waiting on the next big thing........
post #28 of 134
I think it's a few things:

1. Things just seem to work these days. Any modern Intel or AMD CPU has the power and the integrated GPU to handle most HTPC tasks.

2. With Netflix, VUDU, RedBox, Hulu, etc. and boxes like the Roku3 it's a lot less work and expense to go with one of these vs. building and maintaining an HTPC (I don't agree but it's what I hear).

3. This forum isn't as friendly as it used to be. There are lots of long contentious threads with little information. Who wants to wade through all of it or get bashed over the semantics of a post?
post #29 of 134
I am new to the forum, I post here because I have only really started getting heavily interested in HTPC , I am very clued up when it comes to the IT side of things but not so much in dealing with tv / projector calibration + rendering software such as madvr/SVP etc(which is the only reason I post). The only reason I have an interest in those type of things is because I love trying to optimize/make the most of what I have.

I think the common user who will build/buy a HTPC will just want a computer for media storage and playback with the option to browse the web. Computers over the last 10 years have become inf easier to use for the "average" person and software has become way more intuitive than ever, so for basic tasks way less support (posts here) is needed .
post #30 of 134
Quote:
Originally Posted by StardogChampion View Post

I think it's a few things:

1. Things just seem to work these days. Any modern Intel or AMD CPU has the power and the integrated GPU to handle most HTPC tasks.

2. With Netflix, VUDU, RedBox, Hulu, etc. and boxes like the Roku3 it's a lot less work and expense to go with one of these vs. building and maintaining an HTPC (I don't agree but it's what I hear).

3. This forum isn't as friendly as it used to be. There are lots of long contentious threads with little information. Who wants to wade through all of it or get bashed over the semantics of a post?

This!
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