Where do I go from here? XMBC or Plex w/Roku? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 17 Old 12-24-2014, 02:52 PM - Thread Starter
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Thumbs down Where do I go from here? XMBC or Plex w/Roku?

Hi All,

I began building my ultimate Windows 8.1 HTPC/Server in Feb this year. I have the PC and everything is running. My movies (personal and hollywood) are all on my 12TB data drives. I have a straight HDMI out (from my PC) to my A/V Receiver (supports DTS-MA and most others) which goes HDMI to Vizio HDTV with CEC enabled.

I am NOT doing Tivo style recording on this HTPC nor do I want to watch live TV through my PC. FOr that I have Dish DVR separate and we are ok with that.

I have been stuck since Feb because I can't figure out how to:
  1. Get my PC to auto-power on with Remote control
  2. Go straight to XBMC or Plex Home Theatre (prefer XBMC).
  3. Not have an ability to go to "Windows" or even show the Windows desktop - not that important, but currently XBMC runs and you have to press Alt-Tab on keyboard to "activate" it. Shows task bar at bottom and all.
  4. When shutting down, it just shuts down entire PC and not go back to "desktop".
  5. And be able to control all this via my Harmony remote. I bought this IR Remote with Dongle (Remote)

So I have decided that I am going to throw in the towel and get Roku and run Plex off it. This would resolve pretty much all of my problems except it will create a new one...The Plex is ugly looking on Roku!

Plex is looking like the solution cause I can access everything on my other devices..pretty cool...but the Roku front-end is not friendly.

There is another issue that I have with this PC (I get horizontal lines on movies) but I will leave that for another day.

What would be your guys' advice? Go the Roku/Plex route or run Plex Home Theatre from PC directly or make some minor tweaks and have XBMC with Aeon skin run. And use the Plex for my mobile devices while main front-end is XBMC on big TV?

Thanks for your help...desperate now.
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post #2 of 17 Old 12-24-2014, 04:00 PM
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1. The PC has to go to Sleep mode (S3) not power off, or you won't be able to power it back on. Go into BIOS and set the function of the power button to put the PC to sleep and you are all done.

2. Going straight into XBMC or whatever is no more than dragging the shortcut into the Startup folder in Start/All Programs.

3. You don't ever want the ability to go to Windows at all? I don't recommend that, as there will be times you need to do maintenance.

4. I don't understand, is there a question for this?

5. No problem at all to do this.

My recommendation is to follow our advice and fix your HTPC. None of the issues you have described are difficult to resolve. Otherwise, you can't beat the FireTV for Plex or whatever, especially now while it is $79.
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post #3 of 17 Old 12-24-2014, 04:34 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TornadoTJ View Post
1. The PC has to go to Sleep mode (S3) not power off, or you won't be able to power it back on. Go into BIOS and set the function of the power button to put the PC to sleep and you are all done.
Thanx...I will test this out.

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2. Going straight into XBMC or whatever is no more than dragging the shortcut into the Startup folder in Start/All Programs.
I actually do have XMBC do that right now...but it seems the "focus" is moved to something else and I have to Alt-Tab back to XBMC

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3. You don't ever want the ability to go to Windows at all? I don't recommend that, as there will be times you need to do maintenance.
No not ever. Just don't want to switch to Windows Desktop if I press a wrong remote button and so on.

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4. I don't understand, is there a question for this?
Actually...I didn't phrase that right. Basically when I shutdown from XBMC, it should just shut the computer down with it. Not shut-down and get to Desktop. Is that possible?

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5. No problem at all to do this.
What's the secret? I have tried but can't get my Logitech to program correctly and have right key presses. Is there a guide floating somewhere?

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My recommendation is to follow our advice and fix your HTPC. None of the issues you have described are difficult to resolve. Otherwise, you can't beat the FireTV for Plex or whatever, especially now while it is $79.
Got it...will try the above and see how it goes.
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post #4 of 17 Old 12-24-2014, 05:38 PM
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For number 3, if you want to go straight into XMBC, follow this. It's a matter of setting the shell to the executable for XMBC.
http://www.askvg.com/how-to-apply-an...er-in-windows/
In older versions of Windows like Windows 95, it was a lot easier, but this will get you there. You can still start other apps if you want by doing Cntrl Alt Del, start task manager, click Applications, then click New Task... if you need to.

4 - Just set it so that the power button puts it to sleep and that is all that matters really. Or again you can Cntrl Alt Del and select Shut Down if you have to.

5 - Which IR receiver did you buy? Did it come with a remote? On my systems, I just tell the Logitech that the manufacturer is Microsoft and the model is Media Center PC.
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post #5 of 17 Old 12-24-2014, 05:50 PM
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5. Contrary to the description, that's an Ortek dongle, not Windows MCE or Microsoft Media Center PC or any other RC5 based protocol. So be sure to pick "Ortek" "VRC-1100" or "Adesso" "ARC-1100" from the Harmony database.

With Ortek, any button will wake your PC and Off will sleep. I wouldn't use power toggle, that will just wake it every other time. I made my own discrete on for Ortek. I may be able to post the pronto hex if you're interested.

FWIW, this is my favorite MCE dongle, even though it uses NEC1 protocol instead of MCE. I've found it to be much more reliable than any MCE dongle besides Ortek.
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Aim-Diamond-...e-/12132554262

Last edited by mdavej; 12-24-2014 at 06:04 PM.
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post #6 of 17 Old 12-24-2014, 11:37 PM
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xbmc launcher solves 2 and 3 for xbmc not plex obviously

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post #7 of 17 Old 12-25-2014, 11:58 AM - Thread Starter
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Thank you and Merry Christmas to you all.
  1. Xbmc Launcher worked as advertised. It goes straight into Windows without showing desktop and all.
  2. Remote mapping failed! - I followed these instructions - Any other links? My remote is not Ortek - when I bought it the name was Sanoxy. If so, where do I pick Ortek or VRC-1100 in Harmony software (using MyHarmony)? My IR receiver came with the remote.
  3. The Sanoxy remote can wake up PC and put it to sleep - that works...but after a little bit the computer wakes back up automatically???
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post #8 of 17 Old 12-25-2014, 08:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wildviper View Post
  1. Xbmc Launcher worked as advertised. It goes straight into Windows without showing desktop and all.
  2. Remote mapping failed! - I followed these instructions - Any other links? My remote is not Ortek - when I bought it the name was Sanoxy. If so, where do I pick Ortek or VRC-1100 in Harmony software (using MyHarmony)? My IR receiver came with the remote.
  3. The Sanoxy remote can wake up PC and put it to sleep - that works...but after a little bit the computer wakes back up automatically???
Sanoxy=Ortek=Adesso. They are all absolutely identical and use the Ortek codes I said.

Remote mapping per those instructions is impossible because your remote uses Ortek protocol and Ortek codes, not RC6 or MCE. You need a different dongle if you want to remap per that thread, a genuine RC6/MCE one like HP, Microsoft or Lenovo. However, XBMC has an Ortek profile you can pick that will map everything for you, without any registry changes. At least that's the way my Raspberry Pi worked.

Last time I programmed a Harmony and added a device, it asks for a make and model, which is Ortek and VRC-1100, same way you added your TV and other devices. I don't know what else to tell you. I've used Ortek on at least 5 different Harmony remotes over the years without issue. Maybe dig around the Logitech forums for Ortek, Sanoxy or Adesso for more help. I've posted precise instructions there in the past.

Many things can wake a PC (USB, Wake On LAN, timer events, etc.). That's a whole other can of worms.
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post #9 of 17 Old 12-26-2014, 06:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wildviper View Post
.
There is another issue that I have with this PC (I get horizontal lines on movies) but I will leave that for another day.
Does this only happen while watching movies or any live/recorded tv as well? Are the horizontal lines scrolling up the screen?
Make sure everything is grounded, including any cable/antenna drops and splitters.
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post #10 of 17 Old 12-26-2014, 12:23 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by mdavej View Post
Sanoxy=Ortek=Adesso. They are all absolutely identical and use the Ortek codes I said.

Last time I programmed a Harmony and added a device, it asks for a make and model, which is Ortek and VRC-1100, same way you added your TV and other devices. I don't know what else to tell you. I've used Ortek on at least 5 different Harmony remotes over the years without issue. Maybe dig around the Logitech forums for Ortek, Sanoxy or Adesso for more help. I've posted precise instructions there in the past.
Thanx. I will try this. I also ended up ordering Flirc. Will return if this method works out for me. Just so that I am clear, do I delete the two Windows Media Center devices I programmed and just use the Ortek device?

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Does this only happen while watching movies or any live/recorded tv as well? Are the horizontal lines scrolling up the screen?
Make sure everything is grounded, including any cable/antenna drops and splitters.
I only have movies - no live tv or recorded tv. And this happens on the big Vizio TV as well as my 2nd computer monitor that I have attached. I think it is Vertical Sync issue - the line starts horizontally from top and moves down. It generally happens in fast motion scenes (action and so on).

***
On another note, I was thinking of just using the Windows 8.1 Tile front-end as my main menu. This way I can have Facebook app / Netflix App and others from Windows 8 apps and have a tile of XBMC to start. To program XBMC to be like a Roku can be challenging...but Windows metro interface is pretty cool. I can perhaps even have a on-screen keyboard pop up. Does anyone see issue with this? Save me before I spend endless hours on this setup and realize..oops a big mistake.
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post #11 of 17 Old 12-26-2014, 01:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wildviper View Post
.
I only have movies - no live tv or recorded tv. And this happens on the big Vizio TV as well as my 2nd computer monitor that I have attached. I think it is Vertical Sync issue - the line starts horizontally from top and moves down. It generally happens in fast motion scenes (action and so on).
If it doesn't happen constantly or you can't see a scrolling bar on a blank screen then yeah you are likely correct.

Looked up V Sync issue and found this, may be helpful.

http://www.tweakguides.com/Graphics_9.html
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post #12 of 17 Old 12-26-2014, 02:46 PM - Thread Starter
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If it doesn't happen constantly or you can't see a scrolling bar on a blank screen then yeah you are likely correct.

Looked up V Sync issue and found this, may be helpful.

http://www.tweakguides.com/Graphics_9.html
Thanx...will check that out. That picture in the link is what happens...I guess this is called "tearing!"
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post #13 of 17 Old 12-26-2014, 03:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Well I think I found the issue with "tearing" - amazing when you know the right word to use for search!

Basically it is a Microsoft issue with using Clone. So, have to get rid of Clone and use Extended or no 2nd display device.

To others affected by this and have similar setup (1 Monitor and 1 TV on clone mode), check this out: Microsoft known issue

I have yet to test this since I am at work...but will do and report back.
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post #14 of 17 Old 12-26-2014, 04:32 PM - Thread Starter
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Found another piece of information that I wanted to share.

If someone has the hair-brained idea of using Windows Metro screen as a front-end to your HTPC - scratch it. Check this
video out. Apparently not all apps are remote friendly including Netflix!
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post #15 of 17 Old 12-26-2014, 06:02 PM
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Originally Posted by wildviper View Post
Thanx. I will try this. I also ended up ordering Flirc. Will return if this method works out for me. Just so that I am clear, do I delete the two Windows Media Center devices I programmed and just use the Ortek device?
I know very little about Flirc. But from what I understand, it will sense any signal and remap it. So I would say dump all those devices and use something that has hundreds of commands, like an AVR. If you didn't use Harmony, I'd even recommend you simply create your own device from scratch. Simple protocols (like NEC1) give you 256 possible commands, complex ones give you thousands. Personally I'd try the Eventghost route first since it requires no hardware besides what you already have.

I was going to warn you about metro. Not only are apps not remote friendly, they aren't even keyboard or mouse friendly. It's a real shame since that would have had so much potential. If MS had only put a little more effort into it.

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post #16 of 17 Old 12-26-2014, 08:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wildviper View Post
Well I think I found the issue with "tearing" - amazing when you know the right word to use for search!

Basically it is a Microsoft issue with using Clone. So, have to get rid of Clone and use Extended or no 2nd display device.

To others affected by this and have similar setup (1 Monitor and 1 TV on clone mode), check this out: Microsoft known issue

I have yet to test this since I am at work...but will do and report back.
Yeah, I posted about this a while back:

https://www.avsforum.com/forum/26-hom...reen-tear.html

Extended mode does eliminate it. I recently updated the Intel HD 4600 driver but haven't tried it in clone mode since I only use the TV for XBMC when used as a PC monitor. This is my bedroom set up. In my living room I have also have an i5 (4690K currently running at 4.1 GHz) HTPC using the HD 4600 integrated graphics, but it's only connected to an AVR/Plasma so no screen tear issues there.

FWIW, my old Core2 Duo PC with an ancient HIS Radeon 4670 HD AGP GPU never had screen tear when in clone mode so I think this is probably more of an Intel IGPU issue than a Windows issue. I still use that PC in another room on occasion and it's still connected to both a monitor and an HDTV.

Last edited by Slosh; 12-26-2014 at 08:17 PM.
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post #17 of 17 Old 01-04-2015, 01:03 AM - Thread Starter
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As an update...I got the FLIRC and it is working well enough for me.

I tried going the Windows MCE route and all..but just too much fiddling around. The FLIRC has a profile in Harmony's database and thus is a lot easier to program. I just added that as a device and Model name as XBMC. Voila!

There are some things - like context menu - that I had to specify button for, but all working within Harmony software.
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