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I've been a long-time user of XBMC, but needed something HD. I think a lot of people are in this boat. So for those interested, here's how I think XBMC compares to the Popcorn Hour A-100 and Sony PS3.

XBMC ($100)
Interface: beautiful, functional, slick, customizable, near perfect
File support: every file type is supported, though the Xbox cannot play HD or a lot of x264 files due to low processing power. You have an ISO file that's RARed? No problem, select the rar and the DVD menu pops up. Simply amazing.
Features: everything is here - you can watch a movie and have it be displayed while you move around the main interface, make bookmarks, adjust A/V delay and 100 other A/V options, compensate for overscan, download images and summaries from IMDB, select from tons of different MP3 visulizations, etc. etc. etc.
Maintenance: kind of a pain, to upgrade you have to boot into a different Xbox dashboard, FTP files over, then reboot. Plus you have to hack an Xbox in the first place.
Summary: The best player, period. Its only flaws are that it cannot do HD and it's not running on a platform designed solely for its purpose, so maintenance can be a little hard.

PS3 ($399)
Interface: very nice, requires a uPnP server to access content on a computer (no SMB support)
File support: No isos or MKV, but most other files (SD and HD) are theoretically supported. However, about half will give playback errors and must be re-encoded
Features: Decent. It remembers file position if you stop, has time seek, but no A/V delay or advanced A/V adjustments. It has a couple decent MP3 visualizations and you can navigate while playing media and downloading. Needs a USB IR dongle for universal remote support.
Maintenance: Go to update and click OK. Bam, you're done.
Summary: A decent package. If you don't mind re-encoding most things to x264 or a compatible XVID, this is a great choice as it's also a Blu-ray player and gaming system.

Popcorn Hour A-100 ($194)
Interface: drab and monochromatic, slow navigation, occasional lockups
File support: Almost everything. MKV, iso, ts, whatever, it just plays. No IMG or RAR support, but everything else is here.
Features: Horrible. While playing a video, the only thing you can do is time seek and see where you're at in the file. It doesn't remember your last position, have bookmarks, IMDB images, A/V sync, there isn't even a menu of options when playing a file. It won't display even the Track/artist while playing an MP3, and of course you can't navigate while doing anything else. I can't believe this is called a media player, as even the PS3 has more features. It does support internet video and audio.
Maintenance: Go to update and click OK. Bam, you're done.
Summary: Great file support, slow but functional interface, and no A/V features.


Recommendations:


Don't need HD? XBMC, no questions asked.

Occasional file playing? PS3 with a program like PS3 video to convert to a compatible format

Large and diverse file library? Popcorn Hour, but sadly you're sacrificing almost every playback and interface feature there is.


I don't have experience with the Xbox 360. I'm sure a HTPC can do everything, but cost and maintenance is high.
 

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I guess the Xbox 360 not in the ball park at all, whats the deal with it. This months Maximum PC is showing you how to work it as a media player. Are all these companies hands tired by the movie industry or is a big company like Microsoft afraid of the Linux, and a small group of part time workes who could bring the 360 to the next level? Will there be a HD media server that works?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silver-Fox /forum/post/13015393


I guess the Xbox 360 not in the ball park at all, whats the deal with it. This months Maximum PC is showing you how to work it as a media player. Are all these companies hands tired by the movie industry or is a big company like Microsoft afraid of the Linux, and a small group of part time workes who could bring the 360 to the next level? Will there be a HD media server that works?

Microsoft really don't want people to develop applications for the 360 that would reduce their revenue streams. If someone were to develop a great media player application for the 360 - lots of people would buy 360s - but they wouldn't be buying the games - which actually generate the revenue for Microsoft (as both MS and Sony sell their games consoles as loss-leaders for pre-recorded content that they make money on) This is NOT in Microsoft's interest.


(Though you could argue that quite a few people buy 360s to use them purely as Media Center Extenders I guess)
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by sauroneru /forum/post/13014847


I've been a long-time user of XBMC, but needed something HD. I think a lot of people are in this boat. So for those interested, here's how I think XBMC compares to the Popcorn Hour A-100 and Sony PS3.

I agree about XBMC being a great movie and music player application - though for my money Apple TV is a marginally better music front-end with Cover Flow etc. XBMC has some great facilities that just aren't offered by hardware players - one of my favourites being replay of 24p content at 25p for 50Hz displays - so we don't have to suffer 3:2 judder on 24p content.


However XBMC is really SD only - and although component and RGB SCART interconnects, with optical audio, are OK for SD content, HDMI connected players replaying HD content really do look better when feeding an HDTV of a decent size.


As you say - you chose user interface quality over file compatibility and picture quality.


If you mainly watch low-quality 350-700Mb Divx kind of stuff at sub-SD resolution then the XBMC solution will be good for you. If you want to watch anything that is interlaced natively - whether SD or HD then the XBMC is a a total non-starter, as it deinterlaces to frame rate not field rate - getting rid of any 50i or 60 motion and leaving you with interlaced material at 25p or 30p with jerkier motion. This was the main reason I stopped using XBMC - the complete apathy of the development community to solving the interlace issue. They just kept improving the flawed de-interlacing algorithms rather than grasping the nettle to deliver proper 50 or 60p (rather than 25 or 30p) de-interlaced stuff re-interlaced to 50 or 60i.


If you watch SD MPEG2, HD MPEG2 or HD H264 off-air TV recordings and care about picture quality then the PS3 or PCH will be much more up your street.


The PCH has a very basic UI - and sucks totally as a music player - but it really does play pretty much everything you can throw at it - and the time seek and FF/REW functionality is not that bad at all. You also get "position in clip" and codec info if you press INFO. It isn't as pretty as XBMC - but they may be concentrating on functionality rather than design... (Hopefully they will allow for end-user skins)
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I actually chose the PS3 alone for my home and sold the other two. I was really disappointed with the PCH features, and when I found out the PS3 was actually a better player for files it supported I chose it to keep my setup as simple as possible. I sold my XBMC since I need HD, and either way SD content looks better upscaled to 1080p. The PCH does play a lot of files, but lacks even the most basic media player features.
 

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Is you need HD playback are willing to do the thinkering required from a early adopter then know that XBMC is available for Linux (and Mac OS X as well), XBMC for Linux is practically fully usable for most parts but still under early development.


XBMC for Linux (and XBMC Mac OS X) allows for high-definition video playback using a modern HTPC computer.


XBMC for Linux:
http://www.xboxmediacenter.com/wiki/...x_port_project
http://www.xboxmediacenter.com/wiki/...om_source_code
http://www.xboxmediacenter.com/forum...splay.php?f=52


XBMC for Mac OS X:
http://www.osxbmc.com
http://www.xboxmediacenter.com/wiki/...om_source_code
http://www.xboxmediacenter.com/forum...splay.php?f=56
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by kneedragger /forum/post/13024903


I know the xbox is a good streamer, but I don't see any new ones being made.

There are several ways of getting your hands on one of these. You can buy a used one at almost any game store. You can buy one on Ebay or you can find one on Craigslist that's already pre-modded for you.


But like Gamester17 mentioned - they are actively porting XBMC to Linux so that you can build your own HTPC so that will definitely be the way to go in the future.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by sneals2000 /forum/post/13016703


I agree about XBMC being a great movie and music player application - though for my money Apple TV is a marginally better music front-end with Cover Flow etc. XBMC has some great facilities that just aren't offered by hardware players - one of my favourites being replay of 24p content at 25p for 50Hz displays - so we don't have to suffer 3:2 judder on 24p content.


However XBMC is really SD only - and although component and RGB SCART interconnects, with optical audio, are OK for SD content, HDMI connected players replaying HD content really do look better when feeding an HDTV of a decent size.


As you say - you chose user interface quality over file compatibility and picture quality.


If you mainly watch low-quality 350-700Mb Divx kind of stuff at sub-SD resolution then the XBMC solution will be good for you. If you want to watch anything that is interlaced natively - whether SD or HD then the XBMC is a a total non-starter, as it deinterlaces to frame rate not field rate - getting rid of any 50i or 60 motion and leaving you with interlaced material at 25p or 30p with jerkier motion. This was the main reason I stopped using XBMC - the complete apathy of the development community to solving the interlace issue. They just kept improving the flawed de-interlacing algorithms rather than grasping the nettle to deliver proper 50 or 60p (rather than 25 or 30p) de-interlaced stuff re-interlaced to 50 or 60i.


If you watch SD MPEG2, HD MPEG2 or HD H264 off-air TV recordings and care about picture quality then the PS3 or PCH will be much more up your street.


The PCH has a very basic UI - and sucks totally as a music player - but it really does play pretty much everything you can throw at it - and the time seek and FF/REW functionality is not that bad at all. You also get "position in clip" and codec info if you press INFO. It isn't as pretty as XBMC - but they may be concentrating on functionality rather than design... (Hopefully they will allow for end-user skins)


Having used an appleTV I would say that its not good for larger collections like mine. I find it cumbersome. XBMC does better with the large libraries and supports the cover flow view as well as apple does but that view stinks for large collections... Just my $0.02
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by kneedragger /forum/post/13024903


I know the xbox is a good streamer, but I don't see any new ones being made.

Gamestop either in their stores or on their site has pre-owned/refurb ones for about $60 when I last checked. Pretty sweet deal when you consider what it can do. Then all you have to do is look for one of my many guides on the web to softmod it. I have 2 xbox's running XBMC one that has an actual mod-chip with a 160GB hard drive in my living room. The other one I bought from Gamestop about 2 years ago that is softmodded and works flawlessly! When I move to a bigger place I plan on buying another one from Gamestop and softmod it also!
 
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