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I've been using an HTPC for several years now, used to be an avid AVS reader but been busy with starting a family and career recently. I'm replacing my old HTPC with a new one, just finishing up with installing the Windows 8.1 updates... I'm okay on the hardware side of things, but it looks like quite a bit has changed on the software side.


My old rig was a windows 7 box with Media Center as my front end; used Shark007 codecs and had a version of MediaBrowser which is likely a couple years old. It was kept very simple and was used for pretty much just watching movies and listening to music. It worked quite well but I needed a system to try out different versions of (unrelated) software and knew this was the only box I could sacrifice... it's time to renew my HTPC fever.


My new(ish) box is a SFF Dell OptiPlex 755 with a Radeon HD5450, there's a fresh Windows 8.1 currently installed with nothing else. Is WMC still the goto app? Has XBMC, MediaBrowser3, PLEX, etc. surpassed WMC nowadays? I don't know much about those but they've certainly improved from what they were a few years ago. I'm happy to try new things but I'm sure you can all understand, building a nice HTPC can take forever if you try out everything and tweak it to the max.


My immediate needs are still the same; watch movies and listen to music. However, I'd eventually like to get my feet wet with audio/video streaming and automating metadata retrieval; watching Netflix and Hulu will also be a new addition. I have a WHS V1 as well but will be rebuilding that in the next 2-4 months, most likely it'll be WSE2012 R2. Hope to have a ESX host setup soon so if separate VM's are required for specific purposes it's not a problem. I'm having some troubles with GPU passthrough so the HTPC will be physical for now.



Thanks as always, looking forward to some great advice!
 

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Unfortunately I think the situation with streaming services like Hulu and Netflix has gotten even worse in the past couple of years. IMO, I would just give up and use a Roku (or I guess the new Amazon Fire TV) for streaming services. I still think WMC is the best application for live TV and DVR (and the only one that supports encrypted CableCard content).


Currently I'm going back and forth between Plex and MediaBrowser 3. MB3 is still sort of a work in progress but looks amazing so far. Plex is an extremely nice server-client solution that supports a ton of different devices. Plex is also extremely user friendly. It's good for just about everything except live TV and DVR (and the aforementioned streaming services like Netflix).
 

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HTPC for local media + Roku for internet media with a Harmony Remote has a high FAF (Family Acceptance Factor) in my house. I resisted for a long time trying to get everything stuffed into Media Center but once I gave up and let it go, freedom!
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by StardogChampion  /t/1525705/whats-new-in-htpc-software#post_24567347


HTPC for local media + Roku for internet media with a Harmony Remote has a high FAF (Family Acceptance Factor) in my house. I resisted for a long time trying to get everything stuffed into Media Center but once I gave up and let it go, freedom!

I'm with you on that one. The key is just having a good universal remote (I personally like the Harmony remotes). Then using multiple devices just isn't a big deal. Sure if one device could do everything that would be awesome, but that device just doesn't exist.
 

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Yep, use the right tool for the job. Don't try to do streaming services through WMC or any other software on a PC for that matter. Use some dedicated streaming box like Roku. For streaming files, take your pick: MB3, Plex, JRiver, XBMC, whatever. Those first two also work on Roku. For TV, stick with WMC. If you insist on doing Netflix and Hulu on a PC, just pull out your wireless mouse/keyboard (or mouse/keyboard app on a phone/tablet) and use the Win 8 Metro apps. Personally, I avoid those like the plague since I strive to do everything with a universal remote. It's a lot easier for anyone to pick up any remote and press a few buttons than mess with keyboards and mice or phones. Win 8 isn't designed for keyboard, mouse or remote interfaces anyway. Microsoft has decided if you don't have a touchscreen, you shouldn't be using a computer at all.
 

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So I guess the big question is...what's so hard about taking an app that runs on Android or some other lower capability OS like the Roku and porting it to a language and hardware that is PC compatible? Old console video games have things like MIME. Why isn't there an analogous layer app for Android based apps that ports to PC yet? Is it the same difficulty there is with porting Windows Media Center extender code to some type of emulator so that we can turn a PC into a true extender or is this some other problem? I know that Droid devices (and I assume Roku) run on more tablet like or ARM like processors but that shouldn't prevent the code from being ported and recompiled to something more PC processor friendly I would think. I suppose it's just the fact that we HTPCers are just not popular enough and represent enough money for someone to do it and make it worthwhile?
 

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I like the idea of WMC as a front end to all streaming services/apps, and some did work pretty well, but app development is slowly dying on the Media Center platform, and the level of integration will now often just be a plugin launcher in WMC, which launches an external app full screen. Not bad, but not 'seamless'. I can't disagree that their are now many, many low power, small, user friendly boxes that can do the job far better. Smart TV's also offer integrated services that work very well nowadays. Like many, I'm just keeping WMC primarily for live TV/DVR duties, and when products like MB3 are finally ready that will do ALL of what WMC can do and far more, it will be time to seriously look at moving off WMC.
 

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Guess I will go against the grain here. I actually really like the built in Netflix in Windows Media Center. I have a 250Gb bandwidth cap so I don't mind the 720p limit. That along with the awesome Amazon Prime add-in and using Relaunch with the Youtube TV interface gives me all the streaming I need. I do realize this will eventually probably stop working and at that time I will go with a Roku or something similar. Until then I have everything I need in one box.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by StardogChampion  /t/1525705/whats-new-in-htpc-software#post_24567347


HTPC for local media + Roku for internet media with a Harmony Remote has a high FAF (Family Acceptance Factor) in my house. I resisted for a long time trying to get everything stuffed into Media Center but once I gave up and let it go, freedom!


++1 on that as well. I have stepped up my WMC game with the addition of my HD Prime at the end of last year, successfully replaced 2 HD dvr's from the CC.


However, Netflix, Hulu, and Pandora (mostly Netflix) LOOK better (and sound in the case of Pandora) using both my OPPO BD103, and my Apple TV. There is NO support for "Super HD" in WMC (only tried Win8 "app" once and it crashed).


My Jury still out on MB 3 I have a HUGE library of movies, music, etc on my (just about "obsolete" Q6600) media server running 7 HDD's. Running daily for several hours over a week, still DO NOT have all of it updated (can't play most new added media yet).


Got it setup to just pull the newest rips off my HDD based media server (Zxytel) using WMC "movies". After I watch, copy them over to the main server.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks everybody for the input...


So it seems that WMC strength at the moment is TV (both live and PVR). Unfortunately, here in Canada we don't have CableCard and the analog cable system is pretty much winding down with channels being lost every once in a while (plus analog cable doesn't look the greatest). OTA looks beautiful but the channel selection is limited to a few local stations. Although I still currently use WMC for some TV viewing, I think it's days for doing so are pretty much numbered.


I've looked at the Roku 3 and it doesn't seem too expensive, ~$110 or so; I'll consider that along with one of the Android type boxes out there. So is Netflix/Hulu/Youtube streaming really that bad on WMC that you guys have switched over to a separate dedicated box? I'll try it out on my old system but looks like I shouldn't have high hopes...


I should have been more clear on my first post, when I said audio/video streaming I actually meant streaming content to not only other devices within my home, but also over the WAN as well. So for example, have my audio library available to stream at work; and then maybe stream a movie when over at friends/family. From what I've read about PLEX, it seems to do this. However, to be honest I don't know much about PLEX, XBMC, or MB3 since WMC served my basic needs in the past.


If we were to take out TV as a criteria, how do PLEX, XBMC, or MB3 compare? Any significant pro/con arguments for a platform or are they pretty much similar in respect to how well they perform a particular task? I've also read about OPENELEC which seems kinda cool for that "set-top" box feeling.


I'll certainly due my research on the forum, as well as try out the WMC alternatives as time allows. I just want to get some feedback from the ones who have already gone through this and can provide valuable guidance... appreciate you guys taking the time out to reply!
 

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IMO, Plex is by far the easiest solution for streaming over WAN. It's very easy to setup and doesn't mess with any of the files in your media folders, so there is really no reason not to try it. It also supports tons of devices (iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Roku, etc.). There is also an unofficial Plex version of OpenELEC available. Media Browser 3 is still a work in progress and currently not as easy to use for WAN streaming (although it's looking very promising). XBMC is a great piece of software, but it's server-client and streaming functionality is very weak compared to Plex and Media Browser 3.
 

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I am in the same boat. I am going to stick with wmc but I also use plex for my kids roku and vizio tv. So not sure if i should use plex or mb3 in wmc. Also wondering if everyone is still using shark or just using lav now?
 

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I use the Hulu Desktop on the PC & just launch it by itself. IOW not through WMC. For Netflix I've used my Blu-ray player.
 

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I canceled DirecTV and retired my wifes beloved ReplayTV about a year and a half ago. The OTA WMC HTPC provides about 80% of our television needs, and two Xbox 360s consoles for the various streaming services account for the rest. My wife loves the current solution due in large part to the Harmony remote. I plan to use this setup until.

A. WMC is no longer supported.

B. Networks cease OTA broadcasts.

C. Zombie apocalypse.

Whichever comes first.

I'm into WMC for the long haul. If I get eight or more years out of this hardware, I'll feel I've gotten my moneys worth.
 

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Hello-


I cut the cord almost 4 years ago and I am using and plan to still use WMC until my hardware(mostly my gyration remotes) dies, the aforementioned zombie apocalypse happens or if someone gets live/recorded tv working on a Roku. I do not find the Netflix interface or PQ that offensive. If I want blu-ray quality I watch a blu-ray.


I customized my WMC homescreen to delete the crap I don't use or that doesn't work. I use MB3/Media browser classic for my extensive tv and movie collection, Netlfix plugin, Hulu desktop launcher(rarely use) and WMC for live tv duties, and xbmc WMC plugin with just the live sports/movies streaming add-ins installed on the xbmc, and kylo browser. I also have 2 clients and and one server/client machine set up exactly the same with the same remote which is the key to FAF at my house.


HTH
 
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