Originally Posted by acejh1987
If you just want to use a directshow player like MPC-HC , its extremely easy to setup an external player in XBMC, you don't even notice that it's not XBMC internal player.
The difficulty starts when you want to play full BD with menu's and 3D in players like TMT/PDVD. Which as far as I know would be the same in any of the other solutions (I don't think any of them can play a full disc correctly without external player help)
I know this. But using an external player like MPC-HC is not unique to XBMC. You can do it with mediabrowser or many others just the same. I made specific mention of this, but in general the set up of madvr and the extra configuration of MPC-HC to bitsteam HD audio and launch as external player, and set up reclock- often negates the "simple" people want or like about XBMC. It's not simple anymore. Perhaps just setting an external player might not be too hard, but the entire set up process to enjoy MadVR with reclock is not as simple. There is a sticky guide for doing it but often many do not do it because it's not as easy as just setting up XBMC. Therefore if your are wanting such things as MADVR/RECLOCK/SVP - the "simple" becomes not so simple and therefore the "simple" people like about XBMC goes away. Once simple is taken away from XBMC- that advantage lost might suggest another choice other than XBMC. XBMC strength is it's simpleness and that it is free. It can't transcode, it can't upstream, it does not support madvr without external player- it's oldschool and lacks a modern server program and full functionality. There is lots of band-aids and unique tweaks because it's a long established player- but it's probably a poor choice for anyone that wants consistency across ios, windows, android, and non windows streamers and XBMC is also a poor choice for someone wanting transcoding or upstreaming online. Personally I prefer how my MB2 looks and feels from a "slickness" and eye candy standpoint too, and I prefer PLEX over XBMC because it adds some functionality I like and retains most of the "good" about XBMC anyways.
I am really hoping the MB3 Theater allows for all the niche and enthusiast high end stuff I want- with superior eye candy and also increased simplicity with total consistency across devices and ability to transcode and upstream too.
I want my cake and I want to eat it too
At the end of the day front end preference and player preferences are not universal truths. There is lots good about all of them, so depending on what people value they may prefer or dislike one over another. If I did not want to use WMC I would never want mediabrowser2 or mediabrowser classic. If I wanted to transcode and upstream I would not want XBMC, but rather PLEX or MB3. If I wanted "simple" I would favor PLEX and XBMC over mediabrowser- and also I would not want to have to configure MPC-HC with add ons as an external player. But if I cared about best possible PQ I doubt I would find happiness with something like an XBMC built in player. It's going to be an individual decision for everyone what you like.... what I like isn't necessarily right for anyone else other than me. I can only share my opinion.
It's like food. Some people like certain foods while others like different foods.
I tend to think if MB3 Theater shapes up to everything it's promising it will be the "best" generally for many.
Originally Posted by acejh1987
So advanced video processing setup is the same for XBMC as it is for some other solutions, so not really a disadvantage.
As for eye candy, that's more opinion than fact, I'd pick some XBMC skins over MB 'eye candy"
Plex is great if you want to watch movies on inferior devices, for me I want to watch a movie on the big screen with full 3D/2D video and HD audio support.
You are right- not supporting madvr or directshow and needing external player is a negative of XBMC, Plex, and MB2 / classic. I am not suggesting this is a negative to XBMC uniquely- rather just that the extra set up required to enjoy madvr negates the "simple" part that some people might like. No one chooses not to use madvr because it looks worse- or it's too easy to set up. They choose not to use it because it's harder to set up, and they don't value it being worth the trouble. If it was easier than not using it- or automatic my guess is nearly 99.9% would never put in the effort to remove or disable madvr.
Simple is an XBMC advantage, I think it's a little easier in general to get a decent result compared to mediabrowser.
Consistency is a totally different concept. What you want on your big screen is great- but what about your kids streaming a cartoon on a tablet ?? Or on a smaller TV in another part of the house? Or when you are away ? Your choice could be different in the theater- than in the other places. But many want consistency. A program like PLEX or MB3 offer this- the server program on the server he just built would allow for a big screen theater solution, and also for alternate devices and solutions across his home and all his devices. This is one area that XBMC falls short big time. Sure you could use XBMC or Mediabrowser 2 in just the theater - and say screw the rest of the house and other devices. Or you could even use them in the theater then use something like PLEX too for the others (I did MB2 + Plex this way for over a year). But today there is some good solutions that allow for everything, Plex is much improved from the first release- and MB3 is looking better and better with each new release and beta test.
Originally Posted by politby
Good choice of case. You can use both slot and tray load ODDs, that is good. Make sure you get a front bezel if you buy a slot load. Drives off eBay mostly come bezel-less (ask me why I know).
One important thing about GPUs, often overlooked: nVidia uses much less power for Blu-ray playback, in some cases a third or less of what a comparable AMD draws. E.g. 650ti - 8W, HD7770 - 28W.
Your not considering MadVR processing for which Nvidia is less efficient at than how AMD does it. BR playback pure is different than MadVR GPU assisted upscaling. At the end of the day a few watts of power is not going to mean much to anyone with a dedicated theater build and $1000 HTPC. Choosing a more efficient Platinum plus PSU might end being better for someone looking critically at energy- but often still not worth the extra cost. Electricity is cheap.
Originally Posted by StardogChampion
In that big case you don't need to go with a very low-profile HTPC cooler (CoolerMaster Gemini II M4, Big Shuriken, etc.) and deal with issues like clearance over the VRM heatsink or memory. I've always wondered about this guy: http://www.silentpcreview.com/Noctua_NH-L12
Something to also remember is that you can build this is stages, trying things as you go. You don't have to get hogwild from the start. You can for instance, try the integrated GPU and see if it looks good enough and if not then add a video card when the one you want goes on sale, etc.
WISDOM ^ (lots of it)
Some good points StarDog makes. You seem very intelligent about PC hardware and things in general Nick, so skipping a video card and then slapping one in at a later date and installing some GPU card drivers is certainly not out of your reach. If you get in trouble budget wise- you can go this route which leaves you a solid upgrade path without boxing you into a corner or going over budget. Often making a mistake on something like a CPU, Ram, SSD or PSU or even your HTPC case means you end up replacing it later and spending even more in the long run to get exactly what you want.
Adding a stick of ram is preferred to replacing what you have. Adding a missing GPU is preferred to replacing one you bought that is not good enough. Adding a CPU cooler and replacing the FREE stock cooler at a later date is preferred to spending $80 now for a CPU cooler you probably won't need.
There is areas for you to save on budget that are not potential mistakes- but rather allow you a pretty clear upgrade path with no money wasted or overspent. If I was going to make a mistake, or skimp - I would skimp in an area I could fix later on. For you it seems that might be a GPU card or skipping a CPU cooler.